Jump to content
TSM Forums
Sign in to follow this  
Gert T

Thank goodness Ohio is a....

Recommended Posts

Good to know both parties are involved so we can't throw blame at one side:



GOP challenges voters

Party questions validity of thousands in Ohio

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mark Niquette




In yet another sign of how fiercely Ohio will be contested in the Nov. 2 presidential election, Republicans challenged 35,427 newly registered voters yesterday. And both parties named thousands of people to be challengers at the polls.


The Ohio GOP said it is questioning new voters in 65 counties where mail sent to them was returned as undeliverable.


But overburdened elections officials were left wondering how to comply with a state law requiring a hearing on each challenge no later than two days before the election.


"I’m not sure how we’re going to accomplish this," said John Williams, deputy elections director in Hamilton County. "We’ve never had anything like this before."


Those who have been challenged must receive a letter by first-class mail no later than three days before a hearing to answer the challenge — with a lawyer and witnesses, if they choose.


In Franklin County, where 4,219 challenges were filed, officials are considering using the Veterans Memorial auditorium to hold hearings.


"Burden or not, we’ll do it to the best of our ability," said Matthew Damschroder, county elections director.


Damschroder said hearings can be short — showing a driver’s license or utility bill can prove residency. But if mail was returned once, hearing notices also might be returned — meaning no hearing can be held.


William Anthony Jr., chairman of both the Franklin County elections board and the county Democratic Party, said public notices might be appropriate to ensure new voters know they have been challenged.


Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, stressed the challenges will not result in voters being turned away from polling places on Election Day.


"If an individual’s registration is deemed invalid by (a county election’s) board and the person shows up at the poll on Election Day, they will be given a provisional ballot," LoParo said.


Such ballots are held for 10 days while a voter’s eligibility is determined.


Still, voter advocates worried about the impact on voting in what has become an increasingly contentious election.


"That’s horrible," said Susan Truitt, of Citizens’ Alliance for Secure Elections in Ohio. "I hope it doesn’t affect people going out to vote."


Ohio is expected to have about 1 million new voters.


Republicans felt compelled to challenge the registrations "so any question about their validity could be cleared up prior to Election Day," said Ohio GOP chairman Robert T. Bennett.


The challenges arose from a letter Bennett sent to all voters who registered between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31. The letter, Bennett said, welcomed the new voters "to the process" and invited them to vote Republican.


Of the 232,000 letters mailed, about 30,000 were returned as undeliverable either because the registrants didn’t exist, had moved or died, or because the letters went to vacant houses or bogus addresses, Bennett said.


"It was an astounding number," he said. "The potential for these fraudulent registrations to produce fraudulent votes at the ballot box is very real."


But Democrats said returned mail is not proof of fraud.


The challenges are "an unprecedented effort to throw tens of thousands of voters off of Ohio’s voting rolls," said David Sullivan, Ohio coordinator for the Democrats’ voter-protection project.


Bennett said there was no attempt to target Democratic strongholds. Most of the returns came from Ohio’s large urban counties — which tend to be Democratic — so that’s where the majority of challenges were filed, he said.


Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William D. Mason has been asked to examine whether the challenges are legal because there could be a conflict between federal and state law, a county elections official said. Cuyahoga County had the most challenged voters in the state: 17,717.


Some legal experts are concerned that there could be lawsuits if each county doesn’t handle the challenges the same way.


Yesterday was the deadline for challenges to registration lists. It also was the deadline for the parties and other groups to appoint challengers and witnesses at the polls.


The law allows the parties, groups of five or more candidates, and issue committees to name one challenger at each precinct to question whether voters are eligible and one witness to watch ballot counting.


Only voters, poll workers, police and challengers can go inside polling locations. Both parties have been recruiting lawyers and others to be on hand if there are any problems.


In Franklin County, Democrats filed witnesses and challengers in 495 of the county’s 788 precincts. Republicans filed someone in every precinct.


Republicans said they filed 3,500 challengers covering 7,900 precincts statewide, including all precincts in the 31 most populous counties. Democrats didn’t have a breakdown but said they filed "thousands" statewide.


Some observers worry the parties will indiscriminately challenge voters in heavily Democratic or Republican precincts as a strategy to discourage people from voting.


Both parties deny that, but Edward B. "Ned" Foley, director of an election-law center at Ohio State University, said state law should provide the chance for the press or independent observers to watch.


In that spirit, The Dispatch filed yesterday as a challenger and witness at precincts in Franklin County and elsewhere. The newspaper asked the committees for and against State Issue 1 to be the appointing authority, and the committee opposing the issue agreed.


"Because Ohio’s role in this election is so important, it is vital for the newspaper to observe the process from beginning to end," said Alan D. Miller, Dispatch managing editor/news.


"We filed the required paperwork because it was the only way to gain access to the polling places and elections-board counting rooms under the state’s guidelines. We will observe; we have no intention of challenging anything."


Dispatch reporters Joe Hallett, Catherine Candisky, Jon Craig, Mark Ferenchik, Spencer Hunt, Kelly Lecker, Randy Ludlow, Dean Narciso and Rita Price contributed to this story.



[email protected]




Good I hope we can be Florida this year! Although if over 10% of the letters were returned maybe we should look into this, but this could become a gigantic mess.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this