Ohio lawmakers pass new provisional ballot rules

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill setting forth when provisional ballots are counted in the political swing state and what it takes to cast one.

Ohio-Voting Sidd

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2012, file photo, voters stand in line outside the Hamilton County Board of Elections just before it opened for early voting, in Cincinnati. Ohio voters will get two Saturdays but no Sundays or evenings to cast early, in-person ballots during the statewide election this fall under a schedule set Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, by Secretary of State Jon Husted. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Provisional ballots include those cast when voters don't bring proper ID to the polls or cast them in the wrong precinct.

The bill passed by the House and Senate Wednesday would put into law recent federal court action that requires provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct, but right polling location, to be counted. The goal of the legislation was to reduce the number of ballots rejected for voting in the wrong precinct but correct polling place.

Some polling places contain voting machines for several precincts.

The measure, which Gov. John Kasich likely will sign, would cut the number of days provisional voters would have to prove their identity and eligibility to seven from 10. The bill keeps in place current rules that election officials not count the ballots for at least 10 days.

The bill would also require voters to provide their date of birth and current address on the provisional ballot affirmation in order for the ballot to be eligible to be counted. It also bans provisional ballot cast in the wrong precinct and the incorrect polling location from being counted.

The bill passed along party lines in the GOP-controlled House and Senate, typical of several recent voting-related bills. Republicans said the measure would simplify the process of casting provisional ballots, while Democrats called it voter suppression.

The legislation "is one of a series of bills that promote uniform access at the polls for all voters while modernizing Ohio's elections processes," said Rep. Mike Dovilla, a Republican from Berea in northeast Ohio and chairman of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee.

Opponents say it will increase the number of fields a voter must fill out for the ballot to count and criticized shrinking the number of days a voter has to return to a local elections board to show identification.

State Rep. Kevin Boyce, a Democrat from Columbus, said it violates the principles of the 1965 Voter Rights Act, calling it "a vote against civil rights for Ohioans."