|Tracie Hunter Appears Closer To Judgeship|
"In sum, the testimony revealed a chaotic process in which, despite their training, some poll workers did not know that a ballot cast in the wrong precinct would not be counted, some poll workers understood that the voters had to cast their ballot in the correct precinct but failed to confirm that the voter was in the right precinct before giving the voters a provisional ballot, and some poll workers did not direct voters to the correct precinct because they made mistakes when using the complicated voting location guide. Voters generally did what poll workers told them to do."
Dlott said Ohio's ballot system is at fault for sowing confusion and is unfair. But she stopped short of declaring it unconstitutional:
"Ohio's precinct-based voting system that delegates to poll workers the duty to ensure that voters are directed to the correct precinct but which provides that provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct shall not be counted under any circumstance, even where the ballot is miscast due to poll worker error, is fundamentally unfair and abrogates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process of law. However, because Plaintiff's did not challenge the constitutionality of Ohio's election statutes, this Court is without jurisdiction to order a remedy."
Tracie Hunter, a Demcorat, filed the lawsuit demanding that provisional ballot be counted. She was joined by the Ohio Democratic Party. Her Republican opponent, John Williams, intervened in the lawsuit to block the count. The Hamilton County Board of Elections also was a defendant, although its two Democratic members, Caled Faux and Tim Burke, sided with Hunter and wanted to the ballots tallied.
So far, there is no word on an appeal. Elections officials would have to agree to seek a review of the ruling in the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, and an appeal could take months. It would also run up the attorney fees. And at the moment there is no decision on when the provisional ballots will be counted.
UPDATE -- 2:02 p.m. Press statement from Hunter's lawyer with comments from Hunter:
“We are thrilled with this ruling,” said attorney Jennifer Branch, counsel for Juvenile Judge Candidate Tracie Hunter. The ruling will add over 300 votes to the tally. Judge Dlott found that the Board violated right to equal protection and due process and rejected all of the defenses posed by the Board in her 93 page opinion. The case was tried over three weeks in July and August, 2011. Tracie Hunter stated that the ruling, “Protects rights of the voters and that was our major goal. Many of those votes come from African American precincts so receiving this ruling during Black History Month is very fitting. The right to vote is a major accomplishment of the civil rights struggle and we have solidified that right with this case.”UPDATE -- 2:14 p.m. Caleb Faux, a board of elections member and executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said the board could meet as early as Friday to consider its next step. Faux said he favors counting the ballots:
"The choices in front of us at the Board are: Do we comply with this or do we appeal? That remains to be seen. I think that at this point, I would prefer to comply with the order. We've already spend a lot of money. I have read the full opinion. I think that Judge Dlott has issued an opinion that is going to be hard to challenge. But I don't know what is going to happen, but I think it is time to count those votes and get this over with."