Republicans continue to cry about “voter fraud” especially in states that have close poll numbers like Ohio. Their argument is that the state needs to release the mismatched voter registrations collected since January because they believe such mismatches means the people aren’t eligible to vote and they want to challenge them before they cast a vote. This would force these people to cast a provisional ballot – which is less likely to be counted in the final tally from election night.
This is a legal yet unethical way to “cage” voters.
The Ohio GOP sued the state for the release of the list of names. That case went to the US Supreme Court and the court ruled that the GOP didn’t have standing to sue. Next House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) sent a letter to President Bush to ask the Department of Justice to intervene in the case.
Now there is word that the DOJ won’t intervene.
The Department of Justice will not require Ohio to disclose the names of voters whose registration applications did not match other government databases, according to two people familiar with discussions between state and federal lawyers.
The decision comes about a week after an unusual request from President Bush asking the department to investigate the matter and roughly two weeks after the Supreme Court dismissed a case involving the flagged registration applications.
The important point to make again is that just because the data might not match the various databases doesn’t mean there is an attempt commit voter fraud.
But there’s little chance that these errors will result in improper voting on election day, much less affect outcomes. According to researcher Lorraine C. Minnite, of Columbia University, a total of 24 people, across the U.S., were found guilty of voter fraud between 2002 and 2005 — an average of eight per year.
For months now, Republicans have been claiming that voter fraud is rampant and that government officials aren’t sufficiently cracking down. Democrats insist that voter fraud is practically nonexistent –- the real problem is intimidation and harassment of voters at the polls, they say.
Voting-rights experts tend to agree with the Democrats. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice, for example, found that, “It’s more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”
Another study, by Barnard College political scientist Lori Minnite, similarly concluded that voter fraud is “extremely rare.” The Brennan Center also showed that the sort of strict rules advocated by Republicans in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere would disenfranchise thousands of people -– usually the poor, elderly and minorities.
The idea of massive fraud by voters continues to be proven as a hyped-up myth. The Cincinnati Enquirer has provided a detailed analysis of Ohio’s more than 8 million registered voters and found that problems involving illegitimate voting are minimal. The Enquirer found only 6567 voters who had duplicate registrations. All are individuals who registered twice at their own address, a common routinely resolved by election officials and poll workers. An investigation by Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips of the 2004 election found that of the nearly 800 duplicate registrations he analyzed, none voted more than once. The Enquirer also flagged 589 registered voters who won’t be 18 on Election Day.
Since 1953, only six Ohioans have been sent to prison for voter fraud, according to the Columbus Dispatch. But Republican sheriffs and prosecutors are in the midst of a partisan witch hunt the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1960s in the Deep South. to harass, arrest and prosecute voting rights groups registering new voters.
So now we know the GOP will stop at nothing to disrupt the election. What do you do?
Check out the website Election Protection and read up on the issue. When voting make sure you have the needed identification and vote early if possible. If you do get challenged and are forced to fill out a provisional ballot – make sure you resolve the issue as soon as possible or your vote will not count.