As I was scanning through the headlines of the Lorain Morning Journal, there was one in particular that caught my eye: “Ohio GOP plays voter fraud card.” I took a closer look, because such a headline belongs on an Op/Ed page. The MJ could have chosen the wording of the headline and not realized the bias contained within it, so I checked the AP article itself, to see if it was straight news or if it was an editorial. Alas, Stephen Majors, an Associated Press writer is passing this off as a news story. It ought to be an editorial. I’d already offered the counterpoint to the AP writer’s views here on my blog. Furthermore, the MJ ought to know it’s an editorial based on election stories it has run in the past.
Let’s turn back the clock to 2004, when Ken Blackwell was Secretary of State instead of Jennifer Brunner. As I mentioned in a blog entry about Oberlin College students taking advantage of early voting, I lived in Oberlin in 2004. I had to wait for two-and-a-half hours to cast a ballot. I was also a candidate for office that year (but I lost by a wide margin). Really heavy turnout in the cities of Lorain County resulted in a Democrat sweep of county offices, not just a majority vote in favor of John Kerry:
High numbers of Oberlin College voters contributed to Republican losses on Tuesday, according to Robert Rousseau, chairman of the Lorain County Republican Party.
”It had a tremendous effect on the election,” Rousseau said. ”All these students went in there and they voted the entire ticket. This was the highest turnout ever in Oberlin and 99 percent of them were Democrats.”
In the run-up to those elections, there had been question marks about problematic voter registrations, and the MJ wrote about them. Oberlin, itself, raised eyebrows at the number of voters registered compared to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
As a person who has collected campaign petition signatures in Oberlin, and a person who had regular interactions with others in the community while a resident there, let me add my own two cents on the very real potential for voter fraud.
- Whenever I circulate petitions, I use a “walklist” that I obtain from the county’s Board of Elections that lists registered voters and their addresses. This helps me to make sure that I am collecting valid signatures. One can obtain walklists that show a voter’s party affiliation according to what ballot they requested the most recent time they voted in a primary. Also, one can obtain lists that show whether voters voted in the most recent election, or if the voter hasn’t cast a ballot in four years and are on the verge of being purged from the list. I can tell you for certain that there are some addresses on those walklists that do not exist. The house number given matches no house number on the entire street. How do such individuals remain on the voter rolls without getting purged?
- Also, some addresses have shown two families registered to vote at an address, but only one family actually residing there. How did the family not living there gain access to the ballot box?
- A large number of Oberlin College residents are from out-of-state. While there may be sufficient checks and balances to prevent someone from voting in multiple locations within Ohio, there aren’t sufficient checks and balances to prevent someone from voting in Ohio at their college address and then voting absentee by mail via an out-of-state permanent address.
- Those canvassing to increase voter registration came to our door at least 6 times while I was at home. Some of them even knocked at both the front door and then the back door to make sure they weren’t two separate residences. Friends down the street who owned an adjacent house that they rented out to foreign students enrolled at Oberlin told us that multiple attempts were made to register the tenants even though the tenants told the canvassers they were Japanese citizens, not U.S. citizens. Several of the students had a driver’s license, so, what if the zealous canvassers registered a few foreigners? Are the checks and balances sufficient enough to prevent foreign nationals from voting when they have a valid address and can produce a driver’s license for ID?
County Boards of Elections are not allocated sufficient manpower to take these walklists and audit them by going door to door. When I find discrepancies on walklists during petition drives, I don’t know of anything I can do, as a lay person, to red-flag the registration for further investigation by authorities. Clearly, when voter registration exceeds population, somebody needs to be purged from the voter rolls. Also, while a person has to attest that they are a citizen on a registration form, I don’t know what checks and balances are in place for verification. With elections procedures set forth on a state-by-state basis instead of a national basis, I don’t know what checks and balances are in place to disallow persons from voting in more than one state if they have a temporary address that differs from a permanent address, let alone prevent “homeless” persons from being bused in from another state.
The Associated Press writer has this to say:
But do the arguments come with supporting evidence that voter fraud is prominent, or that the current election system isn’t catching it when it does happen? No.
Are we, as lay persons, even permitted to gather supporting evidence? If so, I wouldn’t mind using Oberlin as a case study to reveal whether the system is being gamed or not. I don’t think Brunner wants us to gather supporting evidence, as her spokespersons merely state that checks and balances are in place without offering explanation as to what those checks and balances are, as she refuses to answer media questions herself, and as she hasn’t permitted election observers during the early voting period.