Hours after last week’s Supreme Court dismissal of a case brought by the Ohio Republican Party, seeking the records of newly registered voters in order to challenge their validity, Republican fundraiser David Myhal brought a new suit in the Ohio Supreme Court requesting the same information. As we noted in a previous entry, it appears that Republicans have decided to focus on suppressing new voter registration efforts rather than attempting to compete for these new voters.
Ohio’s Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner argues that it is too late to start challenging the eligibility of some 200,000 newly registered voters, whose names don’t match DMV databases, claiming that the confusion could lead to the accidental purging of thousands of legitimate voters. She claims that many of the 200,000 mismatches were likely caused by clerical errors and database mishaps, rather than attempts to defraud the state.
In fact, the recent media firestorm surrounding the now infamous “Joe the Plumber” only serves to highlight Ms. Brunner’s concerns. Last week, reports circulated that Joe Wurzelbacher (his real name) wasn’t even registered to vote in Ohio. Later, these stories were corrected. It turns out Mr. Wurzelbacher’s name had simply been misspelled on Ohio’s voter rolls.
While limiting voter fraud is important, conservatives around the country have been fighting a fierce campaign aimed at suppressing voter turnout. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter-ID law, which requires voters to show state-issued identification cards at the polls. Thousands of poor and minority residents have no such ID cards. Georgia and Arizona have passed strict laws requiring proof of citizenship in order to vote. And now, Republicans are brazenly claiming that voter-registration efforts by ACORN could “destroy the fabric of our democracy.”
In order to protect voters’ rights, thousands of lawyers, including members of Alliance for Justice’s Nonprofit Advocacy Project have mobilized to offer advice to voters regarding their eligibility and to combat any attempts to intimidate voters on November 4. AFJ has also released a fact sheet advising nonprofit organization on what kind of activities they can engage in to protect voters. That document is available on our website here.