Ohio GOP playing voter fraud card, but lacks facts to trump

Associated Press | 10/15/2008, 4:27 a.m.

Registrations are put into a statewide database and matched against information from the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration, making voter fraud quite difficult. The system also checks for duplicate registrations.

Additionally, as the Brennan Center report notes, the consequences of getting caught for voter fraud in a federal election — five years in prison and a $10,000 fine — are probably not worth the reward: one vote.

When Ohio Republicans sought, unsuccessfully, to close a weeklong window that ended Oct. 6 in which Ohioans could register and immediately cast a ballot, the main argument was that Ohio law did not permit same-day registration and voting. But a secondary argument was that the process would make it too easy to commit voting fraud because voters could cast ballots before having their registration information verified.

That window was viewed as a benefit to Democrat Barack Obama, as the campaign and outside groups transported college students, low-income voters, the homeless and minorities to the polls.

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer last Thursday requested registration records for all 302 people who registered and voted on the same day in the county. Greene County is home to five colleges and universities, including two historically black colleges.

Democrats were outraged, calling the tactic pure voter intimidation. Fischer withdrew the request last Friday, citing a federal court decision requiring Brunner to match registration records with data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration and provide any mismatches to counties.

But Brunner successfully appealed the ruling on the case, which was brought by the Ohio GOP, arguing that the state was already performing the matches, and that federal law provides no requirement for what to do if there’s a mismatch. Fischer could not be reached for comment after the appellate court ruling was issued last Friday.

Ohio Republicans had sued because they say there aren’t proper safeguards in place to make sure people aren’t casting votes using false registration information.

(Associated Press)