Thursday, October 14, 2004

Lawyer sues over lost form to vote


Registration at BMV missed election board

By Sharon Coolidge
Enquirer staff writer

One vote does make a difference, says downtown Cincinnati resident Jeffrey Bakst.

That's why he is asking a judge to order officials to place him on Ohio's voter rolls after he said his voter registration form got lost somewhere between the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Bakst filed a suit Wednesday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court against the Hamilton County Board of Elections, the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, alleging he was denied his right to vote.

He is asking a judge to order election officials to give him voting rights so he can get an absentee ballot immediately.

Judge Beth Myers is set to hear the case Friday.

"It's pretty frustrating when we have people in Iraq, fighting for freedom there, helping people vote, and I'm here in the United States and I can't vote," Bakst said.

In his complaint, Bakst explained that late last year he moved to Ohio from Kentucky.

On Jan. 22, he took the Ohio driver's test at the Mount Healthy branch of the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and he also took the opportunity to register to vote - a service the bureau offers.

He assumed the state agency forwarded his voter registration forms to the Hamilton County Board of Elections. He assumed he was registered to vote until he realized last month that he would be out of town on Nov. 2 and requested an absentee ballot. But when he didn't get one, he called county elections officials and was told they did not have any record of registration - and he missed the deadline to register by four days.

John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said he is familiar with Bakst's problem and is trying to help but does not yet have a solution. Officials at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch in Mount Healthy and the main office in Columbus could not be reached for comment.

Bakst hopes Myers lets him cast his ballot next month.

"Even if she doesn't,'' the Cincinnati lawyer said, "at least I'll know I tried."

E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com




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