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Ohio GOP Challenges New Voting Rules:

In 2004, Ohio Democrats alleged Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was applying the state's election rules to benefit Republicans. Now the shoe is on the other foot and Ohio Republicans are accusing Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is make rule changes to help Democrats. Specifically, Ohio Republicans are challenging new rules that would allow some would-be early voters to register and vote on the same day. As the WSJ reports:

In Ohio, a recently enacted state law -- the subject of the Brunner directive -- allows residents, for the first time in a general presidential election, to vote early by absentee ballot without providing a justification. Advocates for the homeless and other groups say they will direct new voters to take advantage of the overlap between early voting, which begins Sept. 30, and voter registration, which ends Oct. 6. During that window, citizens can register and vote simultaneously. The outreach efforts are expected to benefit Democrats.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, a Cleveland-based umbrella group for service providers, housing activists and others, is making plans to drive about 2,000 shelter residents to polling places during the overlap period. "This is a huge opportunity to prove to elected officials that very low-income people do vote," said Brian Davis, executive director of the group.

Republican officials are furious, charging that the one-stop process will encourage voter fraud. They argue that a state law requires Ohio residents to register at least 30 days before voting, so same-day registration and voting should be banned.

Ms. Brunner's position is that early ballots do not constitute votes until they are tabulated on Nov. 4, said Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Ms. Brunner. In a statement about Friday's lawsuit, Ms. Brunner said, "It is unfortunate that a small, but vocal, group of Republican leaders continues to inject confusion and chaos in our elections."

A suit has been filed to stop the same-day registration and voting, and I will be curious to read the briefs and see how it comes out.

Psalm91 (mail):
No challenge to the propriety of the voting process or the verified identities of the voters, only to the fact that they will likely vote Democratic. Nothing more need be said to illustrate the point of the GOP compaints.
9.13.2008 6:27pm
Patrick216:
In Minneapolis in 2004, there were widespread reports of "homeless advocates" bribing the homeless with money and cigarettes to come to the polls and vote for Kerry. The homeless are a big source of voter fraud, since they oftentimes do not have good photo id and do not have a fixed residence, which allows them carte blanche to cast multiple ballots in multiple polling places and so forth. The GOP is right to push back on this, and I hope they get a good judge who will enjoin this nonsense.
9.13.2008 6:57pm
nyejm (mail) (www):
What about this Brunner decision to invalidate absentee ballot applications provided by the McCain campaign?

The gist is this: the McCain-distributed applications have a check box next to the statement that "I am a qualified elector and would like to receive an Absentee Ballot for the November 4, 2008 General Election." If applicants don't check the box, Brunner has ruled that the application is invalid, since, she says, the applicant is essentially admitting that he is not a qualified elector.

The problem is that Ohio law doesn't require the check box. R.C. 3509.03 lists a number of requirements in an absentee ballot application, including a statement that the applicant is a qualified elector, and a statement identifying the election for which the ballot is requested. Brunner is saying that despite the fact that the applicant has filled out the other required personal information and signed the application below that statement, the applicant is representing that he is not in fact entitled to an absentee ballot.

If the box is checked, the application is approved. And if the application doesn't contain a box at all, the application is approved (assuming, of course, everything else is in order).

Sound fishy? Does to me. Especially when you add in the fact that Ohio law specifically provides that "[t]he application need not be in any particular form."
9.13.2008 7:03pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
"...to prove to elected officials that very low-income people do vote..."

I think it is evidence of the opposite - that they will usually vote only when activist groups make it easy for them - or hard not to.

Psalm91 - and your evidence, counselor?
9.13.2008 7:41pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
It's weird. It has never been easy or hard for me to vote. I just registered to vote when I moved, and keep getting my absentee ballots. Of course, I vote Republican.
9.13.2008 7:56pm
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
Given the history of ACORN voter registration fraud in Ohio, I would not take this issue lightly.

"In August 2006, elections boards in Franklin and Summit counties investigated potentially bogus registration cards submitted by ACORN. The Franklin board turned over 500 cards to its county prosecutor, but the board's Deputy Director Matthew Damschroder said the prosecutor could not file charges because it was impossible to nail down who filled out the fake cards."

And for the current election cycle,

"CLEVELAND: The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections said it is investigating an organization that registers low-income voters after it turned up evidence of voter registration fraud.

The board doesn't know how many fake registrations came from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. But the board said multiple ACORN workers often handed in voter registration cards listing the same people, but showing them living at different addresses."

Link


If a voter shows up in person, they can be checked against an identification card. Absentee voters . . . ?
9.13.2008 8:03pm
Norman Bates (mail):
Voter fraud has been a tactic of the Democrat party since Tammany Hall. I see no reason to make it easier for Democrats to get away with such fraud. Also, every fraudulent vote steals the franchise from a valid voter voting the other way. So it is a matter of justice as well as political experience to fight Democrat attempts to subvert the electoral process.
9.13.2008 8:24pm
nicestrategy (mail):
This is the first I've heard these allegations. If true, they would be very disappointing to me as someone sympathetic to Democrats in general. What the GOP did in OH in 04 was disgraceful, but 2 wrongs do not make a right, it just makes things worse.

I was glad to see the McCain campaign waive off the Macomb County foreclosure list effort. I hope that was out of disgust of the idea of trying to re-establish a property requirement for suffrage and not merely from realizing that the political optics were bad.

Voter fraud, intimidation, and technology are 3 more stories the media is doing a crummy job reporting on. As a citizen, I honestly don't know quite what to believe. Overall, I can't give Republicans much due on this after the flimsy voter fraud cases brought by the DOJ and subsequent USA firing scandal. When Democrats sink to that level, it should hurt them just the same as when Republicans do. Cheating disgusts me in all its forms, but especially in a way that dishonors the Constitution and tarnishes democracy.
9.13.2008 9:02pm
J. Aldridge:
If we have learned anything it is voting laws or voter qualifications mean nothing before the courts.
9.13.2008 10:08pm
jccamp (mail):
There's a second part to the story missed in the OP. Nicestrategy referred to it.

In 2004, something like 35,000 brand new registered voters failed to provide correct addresses, since mail verification letters were returned by the Post Office as undeliverable, causing the Republicans to ask that they be stricken from the rolls.

There was such screaming and litigation that the Republicans eventially abandoned the efforts to disqualify the new voters with bad addresses, "most of whom lived in urban, heavily Democratic areas."

Unless you believe that 35,000 people registered to vote for the first time, and immediately moved with no forwarding address, one would suspect fraud. This newest scheme by the Democrat Sec'y of State is an attempt to invalidate any further efforts to verify addresses provided, by allowing people to register and vote at exactly the same time. This way, even if some fraud is later suspected, the newly registered voter has already cast a ballot in the GE.

Very slick.
9.13.2008 10:18pm
FlimFlamSam:
I do a lot of election litigation and don't understand, from the post, what the basis of the lawsuit is. While I think Ohio's same day registration and voting law is stupid beyond belief, I don't know of any reason why it wouldn't be allowed.
9.13.2008 10:58pm
FlimFlamSam:
And to those who attack the GOP, shut it. Both political parties attack vote schemes that appear to disproportionately benefit the other party.
9.13.2008 11:00pm
jccamp (mail):
Ohio law prohibits voter registration and actual voting on the same day (law mandates a 30 day waiting period). The (Dem) Ohio Sec'y of State says that registering and voting by absentee ballot done the same day complies, because the absentee ballot won't be counted for some time. Republicans claim that completing a ballot the same day as the registration fails to meet the letter and spirit of the 30 day waiting period. I think that's the issue to be determined by litigation.
9.13.2008 11:45pm
loki13 (mail):
jccamp,

As someone who has had to deal with that sort of voter caging before, I am amazed (no, not really) that you forgot to mention the reasons the GOP dropped the tactic when challenged (yet, continues to use it):

- the number of deployed minority military they challenged at the polls.

- the number of correctly registered homeless they challenged at the polls.

- the number of working poor who they challenged at the polls.

Remember- these are people not up on the election law. At polls were there aren't people with legal training, they get deprived of their right to vote by these tactics. It's truly disgusting.

So cry me a river. I have no sympathy for people who, inter alia, are working hard to deprive the vote from those who are unable to get registered mail because they were fighting in Iraq.
9.14.2008 12:36am
Dave N (mail):
FlimFlamSam,

I am curious regarding the Secretary of State's interpretation of the statute (that is, allowing same day registration and absentee voting). While I agree that the law itself is amazingly stupid, without reading the statute, the apparent intent of the 30 day rule is to allow registraitons to be challenged during that period and this interpretation by the Ohio Secretary of State seems to circumvent that purpose.
9.14.2008 12:42am
Brian K (mail):
I fail to see any bias in this law. Any person who wants to take advantage of it can. As interpreted it is party neutral.

It is mighty disingenuous to argue that a law helping poor people to vote would unfairly advantage democrats when many of the same people were arguing that laws making it harder for poor people to vote (e.g. voter ID laws) were just non-partisan measures to prevent voter fraud that wouldn't materially affect anyone's ability to vote.

And if conservatives truly due have a problem with absentee ballots why not reform them for everyone? oh wait, I forgot...absentee ballots skew republican. my mistake...we should all just ignore the fraud that occurs with absentee ballots.
9.14.2008 12:51am
Thomas_Holsinger:
This depends entirely on the precise wording of the statutes in question. I wouldn't be at all surprised if such a loophole exists.
9.14.2008 2:41am
Kevin Murphy:
My issue is with the group collecting and driving the shelter residents to the polling place.

What inducement is given them to get on the bus? If none, is there an effective inducement (e.g "don't worry about your place in the line tonight, everyone who goes on the bus is guaranteed a bed tonight") or even just a fear that some unstated bad thing will happen if they don't?

Is electioneering allowed on said bus? Are slate cards provided? Etc.

Anyone who makes this out as simply an act of charity is being dishonest.
9.14.2008 3:21am
Jack S. (mail) (www):
My issue is with the group collecting and driving the shelter residents church members/nursing home residents to the polling place.

What inducement is given them to get on the bus?
9.14.2008 3:34am
TDPerkins (mail):


Sound fishy? Does to me. Especially when you add in the fact that Ohio law specifically provides that "[t]he application need not be in any particular form."



If the application need not be in any particular form, then the form you are complaining about is acceptable.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.14.2008 11:01am
Oren:

And to those who attack the GOP, shut it. Both political parties attack vote schemes that appear to disproportionately benefit the other party.

Hear Hear!
9.14.2008 11:07am
Angus:

What inducement is given them to get on the bus?

What inducement is given them to get on the bus?

Back to back posts with identical language accusing community groups of bribing low income and homeless voters. Suspicious? I'll let you decide...
9.14.2008 3:19pm
nicestrategy (mail):

There was such screaming and litigation that the Republicans eventially abandoned the efforts to disqualify the new voters with bad addresses, "most of whom lived in urban, heavily Democratic areas."


I saw a Columbus Dispatch map by zip code of the challenged registrants and no doubt most of the bad addresses were in urban, heavily Democratic areas. I had the exact opposite reaction. I was outraged at the slimy GOP tactics.

The area east of Ohio State is full of college students and poor blacks, two groups with far larger than average transient populations. Most college students move at least once a year at school and live at home for 4 months a year. What's their best address? People without money will take advantage of crashing with friends whenever possible for a month or two here or there, take out sublets under the table, etc.

Moreover, Bexley was also the site of a lot of challenged addresses. Bexley is an upper middle class enclave of professionals with a heavily Jewish population. There is also a college there (Capital University). Why so many challenged addresses? Probably the college transiency. Or maybe the GOP was challenging addresses selectively? Or they assumed fraud when other, more reasonable explanations were available? How could Blackwell justify having 2 polling machines in rural college towns, resulting in people waiting in line to vote for up to 10 hours?

Perhaps there was a systematic campaign of disenfranchisement of young people?

Putting in countermeasures like registration combined with early voting seems smart.

In any case, accusations of being selective about voter registration should be taken seriously and investigated. The Secretary of State job should be a non-partisan appointee subject to a supermajority vote in the legislature in every State. Since it isn't, the press and the public have to hold the authorities accountable for basic fairness. Ken Blackwell failed in his duties. I hope Brunner does better.
9.14.2008 4:15pm
Brian K (mail):
Angus,

Back to back posts with identical language accusing community groups of bribing low income and homeless voters. Suspicious? I'll let you decide...

I read the posts differently than you did. The second post seems to be pointing out an inconsistency in the first one.
9.14.2008 5:24pm
Per Son:
My only comment is that the courts will hopefully sort it out. As for homeless and bribery - a quick google shows that issue has happened in multiple places with supporters from both parties.

Oh, and I totally have these anecdotes of one group supporting a political party, and they totally did illegal stuff to help that party like doing x and y. . . . and even z!
9.14.2008 6:00pm
one of many:
Thanks Per Son, that was definitely worth the effort to read.
9.15.2008 12:54am
Milhouse (www):

How could Blackwell justify having 2 polling machines in rural college towns, resulting in people waiting in line to vote for up to 10 hours?

What did Blackwell have to do with it? What possible influence could he have had on the allocation of machines within a county?
9.15.2008 5:26am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Besides the aforementioned comments on GOP voter caging with registered letters, it should be noted that they are aimed at an audience for whom registered letters are generally very bad news. For example, summonses, notices of lawsuits, eviction notices, etc. It is hardly surprising that many of the recipients don't go pick the letter up at the post office. Maybe it will go away.

If GOP officials have personal knowledge and belief that someone is incorrectly registered to vote, let them protest. This wholesale process is disgusting.
9.15.2008 6:13pm