Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Challenges problems spread - GOP plans unclear

In the "didn't really think this one through category", now Bob Bennett and the Ohio GOP's effort to gin up proof of "massive and systematic voter registation fraud" is really starting to turn into an major embarassment.

The Dayton Daily News reports that 90% of the Republican voter registration challenges in Montgomery County are invalid, including one case involving Army master sergeant Surjo Banerjee who has been fighting in Iraq for about a hear:
Local board of elections officials believe the Republican Party challenged Banerjee's registration because board mail sent to him in Centerville was returned undelivered since he was in Iraq. Board records also include a June request from Banerjee for an absentee ballot, which last month was sent to him in Iraq.

It's still not clear exactly what all the problems are that are underlying Ohio Republican Party's bumbling effort to get these challenges to stick. There is agreement by everyone that the challenge forms used by the ORP were filled out incorrectly in many if not most cases and contain wrong information such as mixed up precincts. This still leaves open the question of whether the original mailings by the ORP were also mixed up since copies of the returns have not been shared with the boards of elections.

If, as the ORP claims, it was a simple data processing error, than refiling the challenges would be simple. Or, along this same vein, the ORP could go to court to force the BOEs to ignore the "precinct" errors and continue with the challenge process. And, that's what the Dispatch reports that is what the GOP may be up to:
State GOP Chairman Robert T. Bennett said last night that a name and address should be enough to determine whether the voters live where they are registered — and boards that take a different view could face court action . . .[GOP]Spokesman Jason Mauk said no decisions about legal action have been made, and that it’s not clear yet how many counties could be affected. . . The Ohio GOP has withdrawn all of the 4,219 challenges it filed in Hamilton County because of mistakes made on those forms, but Mauk said there are no plans to pull challenges elsewhere because the errors were not as bad.

But other papers have stories that greatly conflict with this. Back at the DDN, Lynn Hulsey reported:
The party has already withdrawn 4,718 challenges in Hamilton County and Mauk said the party expects to withdraw challenges elsewhere. County boards also could reject the challenges because of the error. Hearings before Election Day would be required for any challenges not rejected. Mauk said the state party will not refile the withdrawn challenges under a separate state statute that does not require hearings before Election Day."

So, are challenges being withdrawn or not. Are they being refiled or not. Is the GOP going to court or not?

We tend to believe the Dispatch's version since it was written by Niquette, and he seems to have a hotline to Bennett. On the other hand, Bennett may just be using Niquette to blow up a scare to see how the BOEs react.

Needless to say, every day there's a new twist.


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