Monday, September 22, 2008

How your vote could be challenged

In my feature this month about voting in Cleveland, I tell readers to "re-register to vote if you've moved," because "your vote could be challenged if you're not receiving mail at your voting address."

A lot of reporting went into that little warning. Did you get a mailing from the board of elections earlier this month? I hope so. If not, your vote could be at risk.

If a mailing to you bounced back as undelivered, poll workers will be scrutinizing your ID especially closely on Election Day, to make sure your address is correct. Also, before election day, your right to vote could be challenged.

This article from Saturday's Los Angeles Times explains: 522,000 Ohio voters have special marks next to their names on voter rolls, because mailings to them bounced back. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner fears those marks and mailings might be used to knock thousands of names off the voting rolls. She sent an advisory to local elections officials on Sept. 5, telling them what to do if this happens. The fear is that the Republican party will challenge voters in Democratic neighborhoods, and a top Ohio Republican told the Los Angeles Times the party is keeping all its options open.

If you've moved recently, re-register at the address where you receive mail before Oct. 6. (You can download the form here.) If you live in Cuyahoga County, check here to be sure your registration is valid and up to date.

Update, Fri.: Good skeptical article in Scene about the fears of mass challenges. Most important line: "Cuyahoga's GOP chairman, Rob Frost, says such a plan is not in the works and never has been. 'I would not want to hear about anything of the sort going on in this area,' he says."

Frost is a member of the county elections board, so he's one of four people who'd rule on any voter challenges. This quote is a sign that state-level Republicans may not mount mass challenges like they did in 2004, and that if they do, Frost would likely oppose them.

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