15% Of Voter Applications Invalid For Congressional Special Election

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
About 7,000 mail-in applications to vote have already been received ahead of Aug. 3 primary. But about 1,000 of them were not properly filled out, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections officials said Friday. [Tim Harrison / Ideastream Public Media]

More than 7,000 applications to vote by mail in the 11th Congressional District special election primary have been received by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. But many of them were not properly filled out, according to the board.

Board of Elections Director Anthony Perlatti says ballots must be filled out in full and the party ballot must be specified to be eligible to vote in the Aug. 3 primary.

“In addition to putting the month and the year, we need for you to select the type of ballot you want,” Perlatti said. “Again... there's two types: a Democrat or a Republican.

“Of the over 7,000, or just over 7,000 applications that we have received, there's just over 1,000 that did not have this information filled,” Perlatti said. “That's 15 percent. 15 percent of the application were invalid.”

Some voters also forgot to fill out their date of birth, he said.

The board of elections will return any insufficient ballot requests in the mail with a ballot and a new application and may contact prospective voters by phone or email, if the BOE has that contact information.

Early in-person voting at the board of elections is now open, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Perlatti said the BOE is also looking to hire a "small army" for election night on Aug. 3.

“All those materials, the ballots, the memory sticks, electronic poll books, all make their way back to our offices downtown and it's there where a combination of permanent and temporary employees get everything organized, processed, verified, validated and the results ultimately uploaded,” Perlatti said.

Perlatti said temporary staff should count on working about four hours that day, at $15 per hour.

Thirteen Democrats and two Republicans are running to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge, now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, for the seat representing parts of 27 Northeast Ohio municipalities in Congress. The district includes portions of both Cuyahoga and Summit counties.

Cuyahoga County Councilperson Shontel Brown and former State Sen. Nina Turner are considered the front runners in the crowded Democratic field, and both have been aggressive with TV ad campaigns.

Other Democrats in the race include former Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson, Rev. Pamela Pinkney, attorney Martin Alexander, consultant James Bell, pediatrician Seth Corey, Shirley Smith, John Barnes, Will Knight, Isaac Powell, Tariq Shabazz and Lateek Shabazz.

Republican Laverne Jones Gore, who lost the 2020 election to Fudge with 20 percent of the vote, is running in the Republican primary against Felicia Ross.

The winner of the Democratic primary is widely expected to represent the 11th District in Congress after the November general election.

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