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2004 Elections

Voter Identification and Outreach

Project: US Electoral Politics
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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According to OpenSecrets.org, Sproul & Associates—a political consulting firm run by 32-year-old Nathan Sproul, a former Christian Coalition activist and one-time director of the Arizona Republican Party—receives $812,864 from the Republican National Committee to do voter outreach and $736,665 for political consulting. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28/2004; Center for Responsive Politics, 1/19/2006] During the months preceding the election, the firm is accused of instructing its workers to register only Republican voters, and in one case actually destroying registrations forms filled out by Democrats. The alleged activities reportedly occur in Nevada (See October 12, 2004), Oregon (See Early September 2004, October 2004, and (October 12, 2004)), Pennsylvania (See Before September 6, 2004, October 19, 2004 and October 19, 2004) and West Virginia (See Before August 20, 2004). The company—which operates under several names, including Voters Outreach of America, America Votes and Project America Votes—denies these charges. [Mercury News (San Jose ), 10/14/2004]

Entity Tags: Republican National Committee, America Votes, Sproul & Associates, Nathan Sproul

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Sproul & Associates, a Republican-financed consulting firm, contracts a temporary employment agency in West Virginia to hire people to register only Republicans. The hirees are provided with scripts that encourage deceptive practices and are told little about the consulting firm for whom they will be working. One of those initially hired for the job is Lisa Bragg, a 37-year-old resident of St. Albans. Responding to an ad for a “customer service” position, she visits Kelly Services, a national temp agency, in August 2004 and is offered a job. At first, the company doesn’t provided any details about the job. But the next day, when she attends an orientation, she learns that she will be registering Republican voters. Though another voter registration group in the same community which registers people of all political persuasions pays canvassers only $5.50 an hour, this job is paying $9 an hour. She and the other applicants will be canvassing at One Stop convenience stores throughout the Charleston region. According to a script provided by Kelly Services, the canvassers will approach One Stop customers and ask whether they support George Bush or John Kerry. If they indicate that they plan to vote for Bush, the canvassers should ask if the person is registered to vote and then offer a voter registration card if the person answers no. However, if the person is a Kerry supporter, they should only say thank you and provide the person with a registration card if asked. If anyone asks questions, the firm advises, “Only state you are there to conduct a simple field poll to see what neighborhood support is… a nonpartisan registration drive” If the person becomes angry, they should quietly listen and remember, “The goal is to register Republicans and to remain positive.” The canvassers are also told that people will be checking up on them in the field. Bragg later says in interviews with the press that she thinks the purpose of the monitoring was to make sure the canvassers keep to their script and avoid registering Democrats. The script is printed on Sproul & Associates and America Votes letterhead. But Sproul & Associates is not affiliated with America Votes. Kelly Services does not divulge information about Sproul to the canvassers. According to Bragg, instead the temp agency advises,“[T]he less you know about the company, the better off you are, especially if the media would come asking questions.” Bragg, a Democrat, declines the job and instead tells her story to the Charleston Gazette and Salon. [Charleston Gazette, 8/20/2004; Salon, 10/21/2004]

Entity Tags: Sproul & Associates, Lisa Bragg, George W. Bush, John Kerry, America Votes, Kelly Services

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Three psychologists, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenburg, and Tom Pyszcznyski, conduct an experiment on 131 students at Rutgers University. All 131 are registered to vote and say they intend to vote in the upcoming presidential election. A control group registers a 4-1 preference for Democrat John Kerry over President Bush, a Republican—an unsurprising result given the relatively liberal makeup of the student body. However, among the students who are subjected to so-called “mortality reminders”—subliminal flashes of the phrases “911” and “WTC” in between word associations—the preference is 2-1 for Bush. [Unger, 2007, pp. 318; New Republic, 8/27/2007]

Entity Tags: Rutgers University, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenburg, Tom Pyszcznyski

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

Category Tags: The Politics of Terror, Voter ID/Outreach

The Ohio Republican Party, headed by Robert T. Bennett, sends 232,000 letters to all of Ohio’s voters who registered between January 1 and August 31. The letter reportedly welcomes the newly registered voters and encourages them to vote Republican. Roughly 30,000 of the letters are returned as undeliverable either because the intended recipients do not exist, have moved or died, or because the letters went to vacant houses or bogus addresses. Commenting on the large number of returned ballots, Bennett later tells the Columbus Dispatch, “It was an astounding number. The potential for these fraudulent registrations to produce fraudulent votes at the ballot box is very real.” David Sullivan, Ohio coordinator for the Democrats’ voter-protection project, disagrees, claiming that the Republicans’ mass mailing was “an unprecedented effort to throw tens of thousands of voters off of Ohio’s voting rolls.” [Columbus Dispatch, 10/23/2004]

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

A person calling himself Harry Miller and claiming to represent “American Votes” contacts the director of the Jackson County Library in Oregon and asks him to call an 800 number to give permission for the organization to conduct a non-partisan voter registration project at the libraries. [O'Flaherty, 9/16/2004] When librarian Meghan O’Flaherty attempts to verify the person’s identity with America Votes, its Oregon State Coordinator says that no Harry Miller works for the organization (see September 16, 2004 or before).

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Medford, Oregon, Meghan O’Flaherty, the county librarian, receives a one-page fax from the Republican-financed political consulting firm, Sproul & Associates. The fax says it wants to hold a voter registration drive at the local library and claims to be acting on behalf of a nonpartisan group called America Votes. The fax reads: “Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national nonpartisan voter registration drive, America Votes!, in several states across the nation.” The fax also says it intends to “equally register all those who wish to register to vote.” The fax is sent to three other Oregon libraries as well. [Mail Tribune (Medford), 9/21/2004; CBS News, 10/14/2004] When Flaherty calls Kevin Looper of American Votes, she learns that the organization did not hire Sproul & Associates and that they had nothing to do with America Votes. [KGW 8 (Portland, OR), 10/13/2004] Nathan Sproul, owner of the consulting company, claims that it was an innocent mistake. “We were not trying to copy their name,” he says. Sproul also tells a Mail Tribune reporter, “You telling me that they even exist was really the first time I’d heard it.” He said his company, hired by a number of clients to register voters, came up with what he believed was a generic name. Yet Sue Noel, a temporary employee at Sproul & Associates, says the voter drive is called Project America Votes and she knew about the redundant name. “What we try to do is tell people we are not affiliated with America Votes,” she says. Looper expresses doubt about the company’s claim. You’ll have to forgive me for not finding it credible that they would not have heard of a group that is one of the largest in the country and is in every one of the 17 swing states and that could hardly be missed in any political circle.” [Mail Tribune (Medford), 9/21/2004]

Entity Tags: Nathan Sproul, Kevin Looper, Sproul & Associates, America Votes, Meghan O’Flaherty, Sue Noel

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Employees of the Republican-financed political consulting firm, Sproul & Associates, contact the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to request space outside its buildings to register voters. According to Holly McCullough, special assistant to the library director, a woman from the firm claims that she represents America Votes, a nonpartisan but liberal-leaning organization. McCullough agrees to provide the space on the condition that their activities are non-partisan and that there is “no issue advocacy.” But several days later, McCullough will receive a call from Ryan Hughes, director of the Woods Run library branch, saying that patrons have complained about the behavior of the canvassers (see September 7, 2004). [Philadelphia Daily News, 10/19/2004; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/20/2004]

Entity Tags: America Votes, Ryan Hughes, Sproul & Associates, Holly McCullough

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

At the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a library patron complains that canvassers registering voters in front of the library are asking people for whom they intend to vote. “There’s this person out there asking me who I was voting for,” the person says. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/20/2004] The canvassers are working for Sproul & Associates, a firm that claims to be non-partisan (See Before September 6, 2004). When librarian Holly McCullough calls the company to complain, she’s told that the workers are asking people about their political affiliations “because they were doing some market analysis in the area.” In response, McCullough counters they were only supposed to be doing registrations, not market analysis. Then Sproul claims that the temp agency is at fault because it is not following the rules. When asked if the firm is really with America Votes, they claim, “We’ve always represented that we were Sproul, and America Votes is a non-partisan group we’re working with,” adding that there “is another, partisan America Votes, and we’re not affiliated with them.” McCullough then tells them that they are no longer welcome at her library. [Salon, 10/21/2004]

Entity Tags: Sproul & Associates, Holly McCullough, America Votes

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Kevin Looper, the Oregon State Coordinator for “America Votes,” informs Oregon Jackson County librarian Meghan O’Flaherty that a person who had contacted her purporting to be from American Votes (See September 16, 2004 or before) does not work for his organization. He says in an email to her: “Here is what I know: We do not have a Harry Miller in our employ. This organization is absolutely not representing America Votes, and my National leadership is initiating action to get them to cease and desist representations that infringe upon our rights and mislead voters.” [O'Flaherty, 9/16/2004]

Entity Tags: Kevin Looper, America Votes

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Franklin County, Ohio, a Holiday Inn employee reportedly observes 25 people from the “Texas Strike Force” using payphones to call likely voters, targeting people recently in the prison system. According to the hotel worker’s account, one of the callers threatens someone with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he shows up at the polls to vote. When another hotel worker calls the police to report the crime, the police come to the hotel, but do nothing. [Free Press, 12/13/2004] Though the members of the “Texas Strike Force” paid their way to Ohio, their hotel bill is reportedly paid by the Ohio Republican Party, whose headquarters is located across the street. [Human Events, 12/1/2004; Free Press, 12/13/2004]

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Oregon, Douglas County Clerk Barbara Nielsen receives complaints from voters who claim that canvassers working for the political consulting firm, Sproul & Associates, tried to push them into registering as Republicans, saying that if they registered as Democrats the canvassers would not get paid and that the forms might not make it to the clerk’s office. In the state of Oregon, it is a class-C felony, punishable by five years in jail or a $100,000 fine, to destroy registration forms. [KGW 8 (Portland, OR), 10/13/2004]

Entity Tags: Barbara Nielsen, Sproul & Associates

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

According to Ohio’s voter registration database, the level of registered voters in Perry County is a remarkably high 91 percent. A substantial number of these voters, however, appear never to have voted and “have no signatures on file.” The database also indicates that 3,100 voters registered on the exact same day, November 8, 1977—despite there being no federal elections during that year. [Conyers et al., 12/2/2004 pdf file]

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Franklin County, there are reports that people have received prank phone calls providing false information about the upcoming elections. For example, in one case, a man claiming to be from the Board of Elections called a elderly couple in the North Side precinct and said that their voting site had been changed and that they would need to go to a South Side precinct to vote. In other cases, the caller has offered to pick up an absentee-ballot application for the voter, deliver the ballot to the voter and then submit the completed ballot to the elections office. [Columbus Dispatch, 10/22/2004]

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Nevada, Eric Russell, a former employee of the Republican-funded political consulting firm, Sproul & Associates, claims in a signed affidavit that the company’s employees were paid to register only Republicans. His former employer told him to ask prospective voters, “Who would you vote for in the next election?” Only people who indicated they would vote for President Bush were to be registered, he says. When Russell refused to follow instructions and registered both Democrats and Republicans, his employer docked his pay. Russell also says that he witnessed his supervisor take out eight to ten Democratic registration forms from a pile and destroy them—a felony in some states. He added that hundreds, if not thousands, of forms were destroyed. “I personally witnessed my supervisor at VOA, together with her personal assistant, destroy completed registration forms that VOA employees had collected” he explains. [KGW 8 (Portland, OR), 10/13/2004; CBS News, 10/14/2004; Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/14/2004; Mercury News (San Jose ), 10/14/2004] “We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant, and he ripped them up right in front of us.” [CNN, 10/14/2004] “All of the destroyed registration forms were for registrants who indicated their party preference as ‘Democrat.’” [Mercury News (San Jose ), 10/14/2004] Russell’s account is supported by another of the firm’s former employees, Tyrone Mrasak, who tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that workers were encouraged to register 18 Republican voters per day. He says that they were permitted to finish the day at anytime after meeting this quota and would still be paid for eight hours of work. “We didn’t get credit for forms we brought back marked Democrat,” he explains. He also recounts how he would often loiter in front of homeless shelters and give homeless people cigarettes in exchange for registering as Republicans. “As long as they have an address, they can register,” Mrasak says. “If they were looking to bum a cigarette I’d say, ‘I’ll trade you a cigarette if you sign this.’” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/14/2004] These charges are adamantly denied by the Republican National Committee, which provides the San Jose Mercury News with affidavits from two other employees of the firm claiming that no voter-registration forms had been destroyed. [Mercury News (San Jose ), 10/14/2004] The firm also denies that its employees were instructed to destroy forms, but does not dispute that they were encouraged to register more Republicans than Democrats. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28/2004] Republican consultant Paul Senseman says that Sproul is “very professional, very mission-oriented,” adding, “He’s somebody that gets things done.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28/2004]

Entity Tags: Sproul & Associates, Republican National Committee, Paul Senseman, Tyrone Mrasak, Eric Russell

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Eugene, Oregon, several students from the University of Oregon say they were told by canvassers circulating a petition to crack down on child molesters that they must register as Republicans in order for their signatures to “count.” Elizabeth Thygeson, age 19, a registered Democrat, explains to KGW News, “They told me that by registering as a Republican, I would be helping people fight child molesters.” [KGW 8 (Portland, OR), 10/13/2004]

Entity Tags: Elizabeth Thygeson

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Portland, Oregon, Mike Johnson, age 20, tells KGW News that he formerly worked for Voter Outreach of America—a name used by the Republican-financed political consulting firm, Sproul & Associates—as a canvasser registering people to vote. He says that his former employer instructed him to only accept Republican registration forms. His boss also told him that forms turned in by Democrats might be “destroy[ed]” since he was being paid by the Republican party. [KGW 8 (Portland, OR), 10/13/2004]

Entity Tags: Mike Johnson, Sproul & Associates

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Michele Tharp, of Meadville, Pennsylvania, says that as a volunteer canvasser for Sproul & Associates, a Republican-financed political consulting firm, she was instructed not to register Democrats. “We were told that if they wanted to register Democrat, there was no way we were to register them to vote,” she tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We were only to register Republicans.” Tharp further explains that volunteers were sent door-to-door to seek registrants but were told to first ask which candidate they planned to support. “If they said Kerry, we were just supposed to say thank you and walk away.” She also complains that she was paid only $14 for 15 hours of work after being hired at a rate of $11 per hour. But Brenda Snyder, a volunteer with the Republican Victory Center in Erie, who disputes claims that workers were told not to register Democrats, denies that workers were docked for registering Democrats, saying instead that the problems were due to “discrepancies in their paychecks.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Michele Tharp, Brenda Snyder, Sproul & Associates

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Michael Twilla, of Meadville, Pennsylvania, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that as an employee of Sproul & Associates, a Republican-financed political consulting firm, he was instructed not to register Democrats. “If they were a Kerry voter, we were just supposed to walk away.” A copy of the script that he and other canvassers are given tells them to offer unregistered Bush supporters a registration form and to tell them that the form would be personally delivered to the local courthouse. However, in order to avoid registering Democrats, the script also recommends asking registrants two questions: “Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro life?” and “Are you worried about the Democrats raising taxes?” If voters say they are pro-life, the form says, “Ask if they are registered to vote. If they are pro-choice, say thank you and walk away.” If anyone asks who the canvassers are working for they are to respond, “Project America Vote,” a name that is nearly identical to the liberal-leaning national non-partisan group, America Votes. Other workers were reportedly also advised to say they were working for Career Concepts, a local employment agency. But a spokeswomen for Career Concepts told the Post-Gazette that the company did not employ the canvassers. Twilla also complained that he was paid for only eight of 72 hours he worked. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Sproul & Associates, Michael Twilla

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Ohio, Republican Party officials submit a list of 35,427 registered voters in 65 different counties whose mailing addresses, they say, are questionable to county election boards. 17,717 names on the list are of newly registered voters from Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, a Democratic stronghold. [Columbus Dispatch, 10/23/2004; New York Times, 10/23/2004]

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

The Republican Party provides Ohio election officials with lists of the people they have recruited to work as “challengers” on election day. According to a 1953 Ohio state law—which critics says is rooted in a blatantly racist 1886 statute that emerged after the Civil War—“challengers” are permitted to challenge the qualifications of voters who they suspect are not eligible to vote. [New York Times, 10/23/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004] Before a challenger can ask a poll worker to question a voter, it must first be shown that there is “reasonable” justification for doubting a voter’s qualifications. All eligible voters must be citizens, at least 18, a resident of the county and must have lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days. The Republicans’ list includes 3,600 challengers, many of whom will be working in the heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. For example 1,436 of the Republican challengers will be stationed in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, a Democratic stronghold. The Republicans claim that using challengers is necessary because the Democrats may have fraudulently registered thousands of ineligible voters. The Democrats enlist more than 2,000 recruits as challengers who they hope will protect legitimate voters from being denied their rights by their Republican counterparts. But in some of the most critical counties the Democrats will be grossly outnumbered. For Cuyahoga County, the Democrats will only have 300 challengers. [New York Times, 10/23/2004] Election officials are concerned about the huge number of challenges that are expected at the polls. “I’m not sure how we’re going to accomplish this,” says John Williams, deputy elections director in Hamilton County. “We’ve never had anything like this before.” Some fear that the challengers intend to reduce voter turnout. “Some observers worry the parties will indiscriminately challenge voters in heavily Democratic or Republican precincts as a strategy to discourage people from voting,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. [Columbus Dispatch, 10/23/2004]

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

The GOP withdraws about 5,000 challenges (See October 22, 2004) in Hamilton County after discovering errors. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004]

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

County election boards in Ohio hold hearings to verify the voting addresses of roughly 30,000 recently registered voters whose eligibility to vote has been challenged by the Republican Party (see October 22, 2004). [WTOV 9 (Steubenville, OH), 10/27/2004; New York Times, 10/29/2004] According to Democratic officials, Republicans challenging voters at the hearings have little or no evidence to support their claims, other than that the voter’s registration card was returned “undeliverable” (see Between September 2004 and Mid-October 2004). In Summit County, elections officials reject all 976 challenges after the challengers fail to provide evidence. Similarly, in Warren County, officials throw out every one of the county’s 23 challenges. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004]

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Ohio, the Lake County Board of Elections issues a notice warning that some of the county’s newly registered voters have received phony letters claiming that the recipients may have been registered illegally and consequently may not be eligible to vote in the November 2004 elections. The unsigned fake letter, dated October 22 and printed on stationary that looks similar to that of the board, reads: “[I]ndependent efforts by the NAACP, America Coming Together, John Kerry for President and the Capri Cafaro for Congress campaigns have been illegally registering people to vote and apply for absentee ballots…. If you have been registered by any of these entities then you may run the risk of being illegally registered to vote. Please be advised that if you were registered in this capacity, that you will not be able to vote until the next election.” [Anonymous, 10/22/2004; News Channel 5 (Cleveland), 10/28/2004; Washington Post, 10/31/2004]

Entity Tags: Lake County Board of Elections (Ohio)

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Judge Susan J. Dlott, of Federal District Court in Cincinnati, blocks the election boards of six Ohio counties—Franklin, Lawrence, Medina, Cuyahoga, Scioto, and Trumbull—from holding voter verification hearings (see October 23, 2004-October 29, 2004). [WTOV 9 (Steubenville, OH), 10/27/2004; New York Times, 10/29/2004]

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upholds Judge Susan Dlott’s October 28 ruling (see October 28, 2004) halting voter registration hearings (see October 23, 2004-October 29, 2004) in six Ohio counties. [New York Times, 10/29/2004]

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Cincinnati, Donald and Marian Spencer, elderly African American civil rights activists, go to federal district court to challenge the 1953 Ohio law that permits poll watchers to challenge voters (see 4:00 p.m., October 22, 2004). Critics of the law say it is rooted in a blatantly racist 1886 statute that emerged after the Civil War. The couple is supported in their case by the Democrats. The couple complains that most of the Republican challengers will be deployed in the heavily black precincts in the Cincinnati area in order to suppress minority voters. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004; Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004] David Maume, a sociologist from the University of Cincinnati, testifies that demographic data show a disproportionate number of Republican challengers would be sent to precincts that are predominantly Africa-American. Maume further explains that perhaps as many as 77 percent of black voters would encounter a challenger on Election Day, compared with 25 percent of white voters. There is “a clear correlation between a voting population that is black and the placement of Republican challengers,” Maume concludes. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004] The court resumes hearing on the case Sunday evening (see Evening, October 31, 2004). [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Marian Spencer, David Maume, Donald Spencer

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Judge Susan Dlott issues an injunction halting challenge hearings (See October 23, 2004-October 29, 2004) in all of the state’s 88 counties. [New York Times, 10/29/2004]

Entity Tags: Susan J. Dlott

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Following Judge Susan Dlott’s ruling (see Afternoon, October 29, 2004), Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell instructs Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro to recommend to federal judges that all challengers be barred from polling locations. [Columbus Dispatch, 10/31/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004] He reasons that poll workers hired and paid by the local election boards and supplied by the parties should be able to protect against voter fraud. He also says the challengers could generate confusion. [New York Times, 10/29/2004; Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004] But Petro refuses, saying that to do so would be a violation of Ohio law. “Neither the secretary of state nor I can negotiate away the legal rights of Ohio’s citizens,” Petro says in a statement. “Thus, I cannot submit to the federal courts the secretary’s unlawful proposal to ban all challengers for all parties, candidates or issues on Election Day.” Both officials are Republicans. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004; Columbus Dispatch, 10/31/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004]

Entity Tags: J. Kenneth Blackwell, Jim Petro

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In a fax to US District Judge Susan Dlott, Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta, offers the Justice Department’s unsolicited opinion on a pre-election lawsuit that has been filed by Donald and Marian Spencer (see October 29, 2004), elderly African American civil rights activists, who claim that Republican plans to deploy thousands of partisan challengers to Ohio polls on election day violates the US Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights because it targets black neighborhoods in Hamilton County. Copies of the fax are sent to Al Gerhardstein, who is representing the Spencers, and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro. [Beacon Journal (Akron, OH), 10/31/2004; Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004] Acosta writes in his letter that civil rights lawyers for the Bush administration’s Justice Department see no reason why the plan would be illegal. “[N]othing in the Voting Rights Act facially condemns challenge statutes,” the letter claims. Bush’s Justice Department also argues that “[r]estricting the ability of citizens to make challenges when they have such information would undermine the ability of election officials to enforce their own state laws that govern the eligibility for voting.” [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004; Beacon Journal (Akron, OH), 10/31/2004; Los Angeles Times, 11/1/2004] Gerhardstein says he believes the Justice Department may have breached legal rules by contacting the judge directly. “It is totally unusual, it is unprecedented for the Justice Department to offer its opinions on the merits of a case like that,” he tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “This is the civil rights division saying it is OK for voters to be ambushed when they reach for a ballot.” [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10/31/2004] Similarly, he tells the Los Angeles Times: “The Justice Department is not a party to the case. They have not filed a motion to intervene in the case or filed an amicus brief. They volunteered information that goes beyond any federal interest.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/1/2004]

Entity Tags: US Department of Justice, R. Alexander Acosta, Marian Spencer, Al Gerhardstein, Donald Spencer, Susan J. Dlott

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, a Republican, files a suit in the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a stay of the court decisions in Akron (See Late October 2004) and Cincinnati (See Evening, October 31, 2004). Petro claims that the two federal judges, one of whom was appointed by George Bush in 2002, are “injecting themselves” into the presidential elections and rewriting Ohio’s election laws. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 11/2/2004] The court will grant the stay early the following morning (See 1:24 a.m., November 1, 2004).

Entity Tags: Jim Petro

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Cincinnati, Donald and Marian Spencer, go to federal district court to resume their challenge (see October 29, 2004) of a 1953 Ohio law that permits poll watchers to challenge voters (see 4:00 p.m., October 22, 2004). The couple contends that most of the Republican challengers will be working in the heavily black precincts in the Cincinnati area in order to suppress minority voters. The court decides early Monday morning (see 1:24 a.m., November 1, 2004). [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Marian Spencer, Donald Spencer

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Cincinnati, US District Judge Susan J. Dlott rules on a case brought by Donald and Marian Spencer (see Evening, October 31, 2004), in which the couple challenged the GOP’s plan to deploy challengers to polling sites in Hamilton County (see 4:00 p.m., October 22, 2004). Dlott, appointed by Clinton in 1994, rules against the Republican plan, noting that there is no need to have challengers since Ohio already requires the presence of election judges at precincts in order to avoid voter fraud. “Under Ohio law, each polling place is staffed by four election judges, no more than two of whom can be from a single party,” the Los Angeles Times explains. “One of the four is appointed by each county election board to be the presiding judge, who can rule on challenges to a voter’s qualifications.” Dlott warns in her 18-page decision that the Republican plan, if permitted, could cause “chaos, delay, intimidation and pandemonium inside the polls and in the lines outside the door.” She notes “that 14 percent of new voters in a majority white location will face a challenger… but 97 percent of new voters in a majority African American voting location will see such a challenger.” Dlott says also that the law permitting challengers does not sufficiently protect citizens’ fundamental right to vote. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004; Columbus Dispatch, 11/1/2004; Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/2/2004] Dlott ruling is very similar to another one that is delivered a few hours later in a similar case in Akron (see Early Morning, November 1, 2004). Commenting on the two rulings, two election law experts, professor Edward Foley of Ohio State University Law School in Columbus and Richard L. Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, both tell the Los Angeles Times that they consider it significant that the two judges have provided similar rationales for their rulings. “It is quite striking that the reasoning of both judges is the same and they echo one another,” Foley says. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Susan J. Dlott, Marian Spencer, Richard L. Hasen, Edward Foley, Donald Spencer

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

In Akron, Ohio, US District Judge John R. Adams rules on a case brought by local residents (see Late October 2004), challenging the Republicans’ plan to station challengers at polling sites in 65 Ohio counties (see 4:00 p.m., October 22, 2004). Adams, appointed by Bush in 2002, rules against the GOP plan. In his decision he notes that Ohio already requires the presence of election judges at precincts in order to avoid voter fraud and that there is therefore no need to place challengers at the polls. “Under Ohio law, each polling place is staffed by four election judges, no more than two of whom can be from a single party,” the Los Angeles Times explains. “One of the four is appointed by each county election board to be the presiding judge, who can rule on challenges to a voter’s qualifications.” Judge Adams also expresses concern that “random challenges or challenges without cause advanced by members of any political party… could result in retaliatory ‘tit for tat’ challenges at the polling places.” Furthermore, he argues, “If challenges are made with any frequency, the resultant distraction and delay could give rise to chaos and a level of voter frustration that would turn qualified electors away from the polls” Finally, Adams also says that the law permitting challengers does not adequately protect a citizen’s fundamental right to vote. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004] Adams ruling is very similar to another one that was delivered just a few hours ago in a similar case in Cleveland (see 1:24 a.m., November 1, 2004). Commenting on the two rulings, two election law experts, professor Edward Foley of Ohio State University Law School in Columbus and Richard L. Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, both tell the Los Angeles Times that they consider it significant that the two judges have provided similar rationales for their rulings. “It is quite striking that the reasoning of both judges is the same and they echo one another,” Foley says. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Edward Foley, John R. Adams, Richard L. Hasen

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Election Fraud / Media Malfeasance, Voter ID/Outreach

Harold Ickes.Harold Ickes. [Source: Politico]After the loss of presidential contender John Kerry (D-MA), Democratic media consultant Harold Ickes and a team of media and technology consultants begin building what becomes known as “Catalyst,” a database on some 200 million Americans containing information about their voting intentions, stances on issues, relative income levels, family structures, and the times they could best be contacted via telephone or “cold call” visits. Catalyst, created at a cost of some $15 million, is based on a model called VoterVault that the George W. Bush campaign had used in 2000 and again in 2004. It is a for-profit business and putatively independent of party alliance, though it will be used to great effect by the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). It will remain independent because if it is owned by a political party, it is subject to campaign laws. Just as VoterVault was putatively independent but worked exclusively with the Bush campaigns and the Republican Party, Catalyst works exclusively with Democratic campaigns. Catalyst depends entirely on publicly and commercially available voter information, and has no means of user interaction. [The Kernel, 12/19/2011]

Entity Tags: Harold Ickes, Barack Obama, Catalyst, Democratic Party, VoterVault, John Kerry, Republican Party

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties, 2008 Elections

Category Tags: Voter ID/Outreach

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