- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio voters cast fewer provisional ballots in the last election but a higher percentage of those were counted, according to a report released Thursday from the state’s elections chief.

Provisional ballots are cast when voters don’t take proper ID to the polls, among other reasons. Election officials later verify the voters’ eligibility.

The provisional ballots made up 1.6 percent of the ballots cast in Ohio last year, according to the report from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office. That’s down from 2.7 percent in the 2010 election.

A smaller percentage of provisional ballots was disqualified because of problems: 90.4 percent of the roughly 49,000 provisional ballots cast were counted last year compared with 88.8 percent in 2010, the office said.

“Provisional ballots should be considered second-chance, not second-class, ballots as the vast majority of those cast are counted upon verification,” Husted’s office said.

The data released show county-by-county provisional and absentee voting numbers from the November gubernatorial election, in which Republican Gov. John Kasich defeated Democrat Ed FitzGerald, who was weakened by scandals and poor fundraising, leading a sweep of statewide races by Republicans.

Ohio residents can cast absentee ballots early by mail or in person.

The start of early voting shifted this fall during a legal challenge to two election-related measures.

One was a Republican-backed state law trimming the early voting period from 35 days to typically 28 days. The other was a directive from the elections chief that set uniform in-person early voting times across the state and restricted weekend and evening hours.

Despite the court action and lower turnout year, Husted’s office reported about a 1 percent increase in last year’s absentee voting rate compared with 2010’s.

The data show 22.8 percent of Ohio voters cast ballots by mail last year, a bump from 21.6 percent in the prior gubernatorial election. The rate of those voting early and in person remained about the same as 2010, at 4.6 percent, the report found.

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Online:

Secretary of State’s reports: https://bit.ly/1zXqYan


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