By Jim Siegel
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS - Hamilton County elections officials are providing "misleading and erroneous" voting information to ex-felons, a Cincinnati-area prisoner advocacy group said Tuesday.
The Prison Reform Advocacy Center surveyed 140 former state prison inmates and talked to all 88 county boards of elections. The group found that one in five ex-felons don't realize they can re-register to vote, and some election boards were unaware of the law.
"This is absolutely unacceptable that boards of elections that are supposed to know Ohio law ... are giving misleading, inconsistent and flat-out wrong information to ex-offenders," said David Singleton, executive director of the center.
Ohio is one of 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allows ex-felons to regain voting rights once released from prison.
About 22,000 inmates are released from Ohio prisons each year.
Singleton said the Advocacy Center is "particularly disturbed" by what was found in Hamilton County.
Ex-felons who try to register to vote by mail in Hamilton County are required to attach a document from the state prison system or adult parole authority proving they are no longer in prison.
Singleton said the requirement is unnecessary under Ohio law.
John Williams, executive director of the Hamilton County board, said his staff is not informed when felons are let out of prison, so they need some proof when the person doesn't register in person.
"We've had people register by mail and attempt to do so from prison," he said. "We ask that they send us information because we often don't know where they are coming from."
A spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the state's top election official, said Hamilton County's requirements for ex-felons are acceptable.
Singleton also said the Hamilton County office was one of 20 in the state that incorrectly said ex-felons were not eligible to vote. Reform Advocacy Center officials called each office three times, posing as ex-felons.
"I'd be stunned by that," Williams said of that allegation in the report. "I think we have a very good staff here."
SUMMER LEVY VOTES
8 school levies fail
County election sites
'No!' Norwood majority roars about 14-mill levy
Monroe increase fails
Mt. Healthy OKs levy
Festival seating likely to return
Mayor Luken may be angling for run at statewide office
Freedom Center taps emotions
Last exhibit intended to get people talking
Young workers lack coverage
IN THE TRISTATE
Spending up at Cincinnati schools
Ex-felons' voting rights misstated
Lakota puts levy on ballot this fall
Local news briefs
Mercury lurks: Think twice about eating fish caught in Ohio streams
Lead-laden parcel won't delay planned Warren County subdivision
Wording leaves details to courts
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium euthanizes 39-year-old gorilla with inoperable cancer
Panel to debate opening park gate
Public safety briefs
Lawsuit: Bad grades killed jobs
Too fast, two crashes, two die
Residents praise new park's trail
Grad awarded $1K scholarship
Rev. James A. Sutton, 82, was foster parent to 148
Janet M. Trigg taught nursing care for cancer
Bush bypasses Bunning on post
Woman, 72, claims sex abuse in 1930s
Silver Grove first up
Florence advised: Un-Mall
18 N.Ky. schools fall short
NRA gives endorsement to Geoff Davis
Bunning addresses business group
Louisville GOP leader faces criticism on poll watchers
Human Rights Commission has acting director
Bunning pressed on stem cells