Will Justice Department challenge Ohio voters?
Some of you might have thought this issue was settled recently when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the appeal of the Ohio Republican Party challenging the voters. But all that the court said was that it doubted that a private party, like the Republicans, could bring suit. Nothing in the Supreme Court's order stops the Justice Department from intervening.
In fact the court stated: "We express no opinion on the question whether HAVA is being properly implemented."
HAVA is the Help America Vote Act of 2002. It was a compromise worked out in the wake of the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida. The law has a provision which states: “The chief State election official and the official responsible for the State motor vehicle authority of a State shall enter into an agreement to match information in the database of the statewide voter registration system with information in the database of the motor vehicle authority to the extent required to enable each such official to verify the accuracy of the information provided on applications for voter registration.”
Republicans maintain that the Democratic Secretary of State in Ohio has not followed the law.
Last Friday, 11 days before the election, President Bush asked the Justice Department to look into whether the 200,000 voters should have to confirm their identities. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio., asked that the Justice Department not intervene. He and voting rights advocates point out that the Justice Department applied pressure on U.S. Attorneys to file voter fraud suits before the 2006 elections - including a suit in Missouri. Some of these suits were involved in the U.S. Attorney scandal.
A Justice Department suit challenging the voters could help Sen. John McCain in two ways. First, it could reduce the number of pro-Obama voters in Ohio and might discourage some people from going to the polls. Second, a DOJ suit might seem to give heft to the McCain complaint that ACORN and other groups have registered voters illegally.
The Republicans seem to be winning the ACORN argument, although a well-respected election blog concludes that the charges are exaggerated and that voter suppression by Republicans is as serious as voter registration fraud by ACORN and other organizations supporting the Democrats.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, Common Cause has filed suit against the secretary of state for a purge of voter rolls during the days leading up to the election. Common Cause says it is illegal to purge the rolls that close to an election.