Ohio elections board challenges, upholds, two students’ provisional ballots
DELAWARE, Ohio – A Delaware, Ohio elections board challenged the provisional ballots of two students attending Ohio Wesleyan University who live on campus and attempted to vote at the Delaware County Early Voting Center recently. They were questioned about their residency.
Ultimately, the university stepped in and wrote letters on their behalf, and their provisional ballots were accepted Sunday night.
Ohio Wesleyan is located near the center of Ohio, and is a private liberal arts college with about 2,000 students.
Karla Herron, director of the Delaware County Board of Elections, said it was the students’ provisional ballots that sparked the process of them having to prove they were Ohio residents.
Herron said: “The students that live outside of the state and come here to school — with the registration drives coming in they would convince them they were here permanently, not temporarily. The students register. They don’t have any driver’s license or identification from Ohio. They have to vote provisional ballots if they don’t have any kind of Ohio identification to vote.”
A utility bill is an acceptable form of identification in Ohio. Herron continued, “The board ruled to accept a letter from the students that states that part of their tuition goes to utility expenses.” The board is comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats.
One of the Republicans on the Board, Shawn Stevens, said, “To adhere to the Ohio Revised Code, [the students] needed to specify what the utility amount is.” The board requested a second letter from the university, and that information was provided. The board voted 4-0 Sunday evening to accept the students’ provisional ballots as a result of the more detailed letter from Ohio Wesleyan.
Herron noted that in the past students voted in their home area, not at school, and “it used to be really that a college campus was not really a residence and they shouldn’t really be voting on property taxes and other issues using their college address.”
Herron and Stevens both stressed the importance of following the law. Stevens believes that the laws could be changed to make requirements more clear and prevent the possibility of a student voting twice – once in the campus community and a second time at home.
The two students’ provisional ballots will be counted after the election if the Board of Elections is able to confirm that they were registered in the state 30 days before the election, and that they did not vote in any other county.
There have otherwise not been any absentee or provisional voter challenges filed in Delaware, Ohio in this election. According to Herron, there were 169 voter challengers for voters that did not reside at their registered address prior to this election. They were found to be in compliance with federal law, and the board did not permit any of those challenges.
Sara Marie Brenner is a freelance writer and blogger in Ohio and a contributor to Human Events.