Don’t believe Ohio’s ‘voter suppression’ numbers

A report by two Democrat legislators that there were nearly 60,000 cases of “voter suppression” in Ohio last November would be cause for concern but for one fact: There weren’t.

In general, the general election last fall went well from the standpoint of votes being cast and counted in an orderly manner and Ohioans being able to vote by convenient methods, Secretary of State Jon Husted reported this spring. After asking for information from all 88 county election boards, Husted said he had heard of just 135 cases of voter fraud and none of real vote suppression.

Then, earlier this month, state Sen. Nina Turner, whose district includes Cuyahoga County, and state Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent released their own report. Both are Democrats. They insist there were nearly 50,000 cases of voter suppression in Ohio last November.

That might lead some people to believe nearly 60,000 Buckeye State voters were told they could not vote – but that simply is not the case.

Turner and Clyde’s calculation included 34,299 provisional ballots not counted, 13,190 absentee ballots rejected, 9,483 people who tried to vote at the wrong polling places and were told they could not and 2,188 complaints by Democrat Party attorneys – not voters themselves.

Provisional ballots are, by definition, suspected of not being cast properly, so it is no surprise many of them were rejected after examination. It also is no surprise that 13,190 absentee ballots were rejected because they were not filed legally. As for the 9,483 people who went to the wrong polling places, the franchise carries with it some responsibilities – including knowing where to vote.

And, as Husted noted, thousands of rejected absentee ballots came from people not registered to vote in Ohio.

As for whether there was suppression of absentee voters, consider this: During the 2008 general election, 1,733,579 absentee ballots were cast. Last fall the total was up to 1,876,174.

And in 2008, 69.97 percent of registered voters in Ohio cast ballots. Last fall the percentage was up to 70.51. That hardly suggests much of an effort at voter suppression.

Were some Buckeye State residents who wanted to vote unable to do so last fall? Undoubtedly. That is unfortunate, and something Husted and the county boards need to address.

But was there anything approaching the massive amount of suppression claimed by Turner and Clyde? Absolutely not.