Friday, September 01, 2006

Lawsuit questions Ohio voting rights

New case does not challenge ’04 outcome

COLUMBUS — A federal lawsuit filed yesterday accuses Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and unnamed elections officials and vendors of conspiring to undermine the voting rights of urban, African-American, and younger voters in 2004.

The suit asks U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley to declare that disproportionately allocated voting machines, new provisional ballot rules, purges of registration rolls, and other practices targeted communities during the presidential election.

“Unless there are public findings and official acknowledgment of the manifest voter suppression and vote rigging in the 2004 presidential election, that experience and the continuing official indifference to it is likely to have a chilling effect upon those ... who were targets of such tactics,” the suit states.

The lawsuit does not challenge the official tally of the 2004 election in Ohio, which handed President Bush a narrow victory over John Kerry.

But the plaintiffs, representing African-American and college-age voters, plan to ask Judge Marbley, a Clinton appointee, to issue an injunction next week to prevent destruction of the 2004 ballots, which the plaintiffs continue to study for potential irregularities. Federal law allows the destruction of such ballots 22 months after an election.

Though not mentioned in yesterday’s lawsuit, John Marshall, one of the voters’ attorneys, said those who have inspected ballots cast in 2004 have found indications some may have been pre-punched, a move that would negate the ballot when a voter punched it a second time for a different candidate.

This year, no voter will cast a punch-card ballot. All counties will have converted to either computerized touch-screen machines or optical-scan devices.

Although Mr. Lee said the secretary of state’s office won’t stand in the way of another review, Mr. Marshall said he fears individual counties may destroy the ballots without intervention.

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Switching from punch card to computerized systems sure makes me feel better - NOT!

Voting is the most basic tenet of our democracy. No matter how it's done, when just one American citizen is disenfranchised, you are no longer living in a democracy!

People that have in any way hampered or halted another person's right to vote, in my opinion, are traitors. And should be treated as such.