Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bush Asks Justice Department to Look at New Ohio Voters

The Washington Post and the Cleveland Plain Dealer are both reporting that President Bush asked Attorney General Mukasey to review concerns raised by the GOP over approximately 200,000 new voter registrations. This action was taken as a result of a letter that Bush received from the House Minority Leader, John Boehner. Boehner first asked Attorney General Mukasey to take action, but didn't receive a response to that request. He then sent his letter to Bush.

This action may explain why a GOP donor dismissed his lawsuit against Brunner that he had filed in the Ohio Supreme Court. That lawsuit was subject to possible dismissal because he wouldn't have standing to bring such an action against Brunner.
One of the arguments that Secretary of State Brunner raised in Federal Court is that a private person or entity doesn't have standing to raise claims under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The U.S. Supreme Court apparently agreed with her since it cited cases in its opinion that deal with that issue and since it voted 9-0 not to hear the case. The same argument wouldn't apply to a lawsuit brought against Brunner by the Federal Government.

The issue between Brunner and the GOP deals with the approximately 200,000 voter registrations where the information in the voter database doesn't match the information in databases maintained by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration. The GOP sees this as evidence of voter fraud. It cites as evidence reports of problems with registrations obtained by ACORN workers. Brunner counters that most discrepancies are caused by typographical errors and other errors made by clerical workers at local Boards of Elections.

Brunner's attorneys point out that the HAVA mandates that no voter can be removed from the voting rolls within 60 days of an election due to computer database mismatches. They could, however, be required to vote provisional ballots. Brunner believes that requiring provisional ballots in such cases carries the potential of such votes not being counted. Additionally, there is the possibility that many Ohioans who registered this year may not vote if they think that their votes won't be counted. One suspects that depressing the turnout is what is behind Bo

Given the track record of Bush's Department of Justice on supposed voter fraud issues, this is not a good thing. One of the many scandals that has rocked the Bush Administration is the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys because they wouldn't bring bogus criminal prosecutions for supposed voter fraud. We don't know whether any of the political appointees who were behind the firing of the U.S. Attorneys are still in office under Mukasey.

On the other hand, we don't know if Mukasey is as much of a political partisan as Gonzales. We don't know if he wants to further sully the reputation of the Department of Justice by ordering the possible disenfranchisment of up to 200,000 voters. We don't know if he wants to be preceived as a partisan hack on his way out the door.

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