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Court: Ohio must count ballots tainted by poll worker

A federal appeals court on Thursday dealt the latest blow to Ohio’s voting procedures, saying the state must count ballots that are improperly cast because of a poll worker’s mistake.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said it was wrong to penalize a voter for casting a vote in the wrong precinct when a poll worker is responsible for supplying the ballot. There were more than 14,000 such votes thrown out in the 2008 election.

The problem occurs because more than 80 percent of Ohio’s voters cast ballots in polling places that contain more than one precinct. Poll workers sometimes give a ballot for the wrong precinct to voters who must cast provisional ballots because they do not have proper ID or for some other reason.

Ohio in the past refused to count such votes, saying finding the proper precinct is the voter’s responsibility.

“The state would disqualify thousands of right-place/wrong-precinct provisional ballots, where the voter’s only mistake was relying on the poll-worker’s precinct guidance,” the judges wrote in a unanimous, unsigned opinion. “That path unjustifiably burdens these voters’ fundamental right to vote.”

Nude student death captured by video

Video of the fatal shooting of a naked Alabama college student shows him with his arms outstretched and his palms open seconds before a campus police officer fired.

The Mobile County Sheriff’s Department played the nearly two-minute security video for media Thursday. It was taken by a security camera outside the University of South Alabama police station, where 18-year-old Gil Collar was fatally shot early Saturday. The video has no sound.

Police said Collar had taken LSD and was acting aggressively, but an attorney for Collar’s family said the video shows his actions didn’t justify the shooting. Authorities declined to release a copy of the video.

Stamps to go up 1 cent: Postal Service

It’ll cost another penny to mail a letter next year.

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service said Thursday that it will raise postage rates on Jan. 27, including a 1-cent increase in the cost of first-class mail to 46 cents.

It also will introduce a new global “Forever” stamp, allowing customers to mail first-class letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10.

16 children injured in school bus crash

A school bus carrying 40 children home from their school in Victorville, Calif., was knocked on its side when a U-Haul truck backed out of a driveway into it, injuring 16 students and the bus driver, authorities said.

San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said two of the children had “serious but non-life threatening” injuries. Ten others were also transported to hospitals. The remaining four were treated and released at the scene, officials said.

Mayor, 91, stole $201,000 from town

A 91-year-old woman who pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing $201,000 from the south Alabama town where she was mayor for three decades paid hush money in a bid to keep her crimes secret, documents showed.

Prosecutors said River Falls Mayor Mary Ella Hixon pleaded guilty to theft and resigned. In exchange, authorities dropped another felony ethics charge.

Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan sentenced Hixon to 10 years in prison but suspended the term because of Hixon’s advanced age. She must spend five years on probation.

Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell said years of thefts left the city all but broke.

“Had it not been a 91-year-old woman, I would have stood on my head to make sure she went to prison,” Merrell said.