SEPTEMBER 24, 2008
The top election official in a key swing state that is sure to play a huge role in the upcoming presidential election has rejected absentee ballots for thousands of Republicans.
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, is hassling Republicans who want to vote for John McCain and two citizens have already filed lawsuits accusing her of the “disenfranchisement of thousands of voters.”
Writing about the secretary of state’s latest action, a Cincinnati newspaper columnist points out that Brunner has a reputation as the most partisan state official in Ohio and she works hard to earn it. Shortly after being elected in 2006, she tried to remove several Republican county election officials, including the state’s party chairman Robert Bennett.
Now she’s trying to stop constituents from voting for the party’s presidential candidate. The ban involves more than 1 million applications for absentee ballots sent to voters by the McCain campaign. Each application had a line at the top next to a box that read: “I am a qualified elector.”
Thousands were returned to their respective county registrars and Brunner sent a statewide memo instructing county election officials to reject the applications for absentee ballots if the box was not checked. She claimed that failure to check the box leaves both the applicant and the board of elections without verification that the applicant is indeed a qualified elector.
Her instructions actually violate state law, which allows voters to obtain an absentee ballot as long as they include their name, address, date of birth, signature and either a drivers license number or four digits of their Social Security number. Nothing in the law mentions checking a box to verify a qualified voter.
In fact, the secretary of state admitted in a follow-up statement that state law does not in fact require a check box but added that the McCain-Palin campaign designed the form to require that voters check a box to affirmatively state they are qualified electors.
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