ACLU of Ohio Urges Voters to Refuse to be Turned Away on Election Day

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
October 25, 2004 12:00 am

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Statewide “Refuse to Leave” Advertising Campaign Informs Voters of Their Right to Cast Provisional Ballots

CLEVELAND – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio kicked off a statewide “Refuse to Leave” advertising campaign today urging voters who are prevented by poll workers from voting for any reason to cast provisional ballots before leaving polling places.

“Registered voters who are at the correct polling place have an absolute right to vote and should insist on casting a provisional ballot,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeff Gamso. “If voters are not assertive about their right to a provisional ballot, they could be left out. If you are voting in error, that can be sorted out later, but if you leave without voting, your voice will not be heard.”

The ACLU of Ohio said it developed the campaign because of confusion expressed by voters over provisional ballots. The ACLU is worried that under-trained poll workers may fail to inform voters of their rights to cast provisional ballots if their names do not appear on voter registration lists. The ad campaign is a preemptive effort to instruct voters that they may exercise the option of using a provisional ballot, which would be counted after a voter’s registration has been confirmed.

The print advertisement reads, “If you show up at the right polling place on November 2 but cannot be located in the book, request a provisional ballot. If the poll worker refuses, ask again… Firmly and politely ask again.” Full-page advertisements will appear in newspapers in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Dayton. The advertisement is designed with perforation so that readers may tear it out and distribute widely. It is also available from the organization’s website:

The ACLU of Ohio said that much of the confusion over provisional ballots is a result of public statements made by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who recently appealed a federal judge’s order requiring the state to count provisional ballots cast in a wrong precinct.

“The Secretary of State’s posturing during this election season has been irresponsible and has caused much confusion, and we are now working to empower voters before they go to the polls,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. Some very important decisions will be made in this election and voters should refuse to leave without casting their vote. Be persistent and insistent.”

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