The ruling by Ohio's Sixth District Court of Appeals means people will have to vote in the precinct where they are registered or their votes won't count. That ends the possible use of provisional ballots, which Democrats said were necessary to ensure the voting rights of everyone who is registered.
"We always tell everybody to call us and ask us we'll direct them in the right direction," says Washington County Board of Elections director, Becky Kirkbride. "If they go to a polling place and it is not their polling place, the poll workers are always instructed to call us and ask before they send them anyplace else. That does happen a little bit during an election; I don't anticipate there will be more of that in this election than usual."
Provisional ballots, or what are often called challenged ballots, have been used in West Virginia. It's insurance that a vote will count for the right person.
"By law, if you don't go to the right precinct and do a provisional ballot," explains Wood County clerk, Jamie Six, "the commissioners can't count that because it may be a different ballot style. For example, you may be registered in the 8th Delegate District, but you go to a different precinct, which may be in the 9th. You may be voting for the wrong people on your ballot."
The Ohio decision is the second to be made by the courts in the past week. The other involved the ballot eligibility of presidential candidate Ralph Nader. A court upheld a previous secretary of state's ruling that Nader did not have enough valid signatures to be on Ohio's ballot.
"That made us nervous for a while," Kirkbride says, "but at this point he's not on our ballot so there's no way we could add him."
Nader has appealed the Ohio decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but having survived court challenges in West Virginia, Nader will be on Mountain State ballots next Tuesday.
Kirkbride urges registered voters to call the Board of Elections if they don't know where they're supposed to vote next Tuesday.
The board's number in Marietta is 740-374-6828.
Other local voting offices:
Athens County: 740-592-3201
Meigs County: 740-992-2697
Morgan County: 740-962-2697
Noble County: 740-2057
In West Virginia:
Wood County: 304-424-1850
Wirt County: 304-275-4271
Ritchie County: 304-643-2164
Pleasants County: 304-684-3513
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