State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and State Rep. and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) responded today to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s announcement that his office is looking into the nearly 900 absentee ballots in Summit County that went uncounted this past election due to lack of postmarks. The Democratic lawmakers had previously called on the secretary of state to launch an investigation into the troubling postmark discrepancies that voided hundreds of votes.
“We are pleased that the secretary of state has heeded our call for an investigation into the disenfranchisement of hundreds of Summit County voters,” said Sykes. “Voting is our most fundamental freedom and Ohioans should not be denied access to the ballot box due to a mail mishap or system glitch. We are looking forward to working with the sectary of state, the local boards of elections and the United States Postal Service to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Under current Ohio law, absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and be received within ten days of the election in order to be counted. Nearly 900 ballots – roughly nine percent of total absentee ballots received by the Summit County Board of Elections – were discarded this year for not having a postmark and being received after Election Day. Secretary of State Husted recently sent out a survey to all 88 counties in order to investigate how many ballots were uncounted due to issues with their postmarking.
“I am thankful that the secretary of state is responding to our call for an investigation on behalf of the hundreds of citizens in Akron – and potentially many more statewide – whose ballots are at risk,” said Reece. “No voter should have to worry that their vote will be voided due to minor discrepancies or bureaucratic errors. I remain hopeful that as details of the investigation come out the secretary will side with the hundreds of voters who have been disenfranchised.”
Summit County is scheduled to hold a special election on January 19, 2016.