Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s last-minute change to how provisional ballots were handled violated the Constitution and Ohio election law, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Husted ordered elections officials on Nov. 2 to only count a provisional ballot if the voter had noted what type of identification he or she was using. But U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley ruled that Husted’s directive could disenfranchise voters and called it “a flagrant violation of a state elections law,” according to the Plain Dealer.
Marbley noted that Husted’s order came just days before the election, yet the secretary had previously told federal courts that he couldn’t comply with other rulings because they were handed down too soon before the election.
Marbley ruled that Husted’s order violated a state law that puts the burden on poll workers to properly complete a provisional ballot form. He ordered Husted to issue a new directive by noon on Friday before officials begin counting the provisional ballots.
“The surreptitious manner in which the Secretary went about implementing this last minute change to the election rules casts serious doubt on his protestations of good faith,” Marbley wrote.
Husted’s office said he planned to appeal the ruling, arguing it would “allow potentially fraudulent votes to be counted.”