Bush Injects DOJ – And Perhaps Partisanship – into Ohio Vote Controversy

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House Minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) looks on as George W. Bush addresses the White House press corps. At Boehner's request, Bush has directed the Department of Justice to look into whether 200,000 new Ohio voters must reconfirm their registration information before election day. (Photo: Reuters, via Truthout)

The White House has asked the Department of Justice to look into whether 200,000 new Ohio voters must reconfirm their registration information before Nov. 4, taking up an issue that Republicans and Democrats in the battleground state have been fighting over in court for weeks.

The voter names are in dispute because their registration information conflicts with other official data.

The action comes a week after the US Supreme Court dismissed a case brought by the Ohio Republican Party over the same issue. Republicans have argued that the mismatched information could signal fraudulent registrations, but Democrats have countered that eligible voters could be knocked off the rolls over discrepancies as minor as a transposed number in an address or birth date.

… Bush yesterday asked Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to review concerns over the voters raised by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

In a news release, Boehner said that a letter he had sent Monday to Mukasey on the matter did not receive a reply. Boehner has asked Mukasey to order Ohio’s Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to make it easier for county elections officials to access the state list of mismatched voters. Brunner has argued that would require reprogramming election computers and would create chaos in the days before the election.

…Voting rights advocates, however, immediately raised concerns. “This is taking the politicization of this to a new level, and the last thing we need is for the elections officials and voters of Ohio to be put in a chaotic situation in the last days before the election,” said Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The voters’ registrations have been at the heart of a dispute between the Ohio Republican Party and Brunner.

Information for the new voters does not match state driver’s license or Social Security records. Federal law demands that states have a computerized database to check the records, but leaves it to states to determine what constitutes a match and what to do with mismatches. Voters who have not resolved discrepancies by Nov. 4 could be forced to cast provisional ballots, which are counted only if their registration information can be cleared up.

Brunner this week directed local elections boards not to eliminate voters solely on a mismatch, and yesterday issued orders urging boards not to force voters to use provisional ballots over minor issues.

via Washington PostWhite House Asks for Scrutiny

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