Federal Court: Ohio Must Check Voter Registrations

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered Ohio's top elections official to set up a system by Friday to verify the eligibility of new voters and make the information available to the state's 88 county election boards.

The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must use other government records to check thousands of new voters for registration fraud.

A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit had disagreed last week, but the full court's ruling overturns that decision.

Ohio Republicans had sued Brunner, a Democrat. Her spokesman had no immediate comment Tuesday.

About 666,000 Ohioans have registered to vote since January, with many doing so before the contested Democratic primary election last March between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Since then, Ohio Republicans have filed a series of challenges to the registrations and Brunner's administration of election rules. They have helped voters file lawsuits against local boards of election over registration rules, absentee ballot requests and a weeklong period that allowed registration and voting on the same day.

Brunner previously said there was no way to set up the system with such speed.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit had sided with Brunner, but after hearing an appeal the full panel sided with the GOP and U.S. District Judge George C. Smith in Columbus. Smith had ordered Brunner to develop a way to verify voter registration information and make it available to local election boards.

Brunner argued that it would take two to three days to create the necessary computer programs, and said nothing in the federal Help America Vote Act required her to do what the district court ordered.

Tuesday's order directs Brunner to verify new registrations by comparing that information with data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration.

Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett accused Brunner of pursuing a partisan agenda and said "her delay in providing this matching system leaves little time for election officials to act on questionable registrations."

Bennett said Brunner was destroying the public's trust in Ohio's elections system.

"Her shameful actions to disenfranchise Republican absentee voters, block the transparency of early voting and refuse the proper verification of newly registered voters have rightfully damaged her credibility as a nonpartisan election administrator," he said.

Polling in the state shows Obama, now the Democratic presidential nominee, slightly ahead of Republican challenger John McCain. Both campaigns have worked hard in the state, which has 20 electoral votes and gave President Bush a second term in 2004.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Oct 16, 2008 at 09:02 AM
    You shouldn't be able to register or vote anyplace without a valid STATE or FEDERAL I.d. All this B.S. about using a utility bill, or car registration as identification is bunk. Anyone can fabricate those things. Having a power bill with your name on it does not indicate eligibility to vote. We have extremely loose criteria for voter registration nation wide. I'll bet there are millions that are now registered that don't qualify...illegals included.
  • by Good on Oct 15, 2008 at 04:17 AM
    Good, she should have to verify them!!!!
  • by Curious Location: Greenville on Oct 15, 2008 at 04:14 AM
    WITN, why haven't you reported on the North Carolina State Board of Elections' review of suspect voter registrations? We keep hearing about Ohio, but its happening here, too.
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