A Houston-based group that wanted to monitor 30 Franklin County polling places for potential voter fraud was thwarted yesterday by the county elections board.
True the Vote - whose Ohio branch is called the Voter Integrity Project - was denied status as official observers because most of the candidates who supported the organization's effort withdrew their backing. State law allows groups of at least five candidates to assign poll observers, and the group originally had obtained signatures from a bipartisan group of six candidates for county office.
“The Franklin County Board of Elections did not allow Election Day polling location observer appointments filed by the True the Vote group," said board spokesman Ben Pisctelli in a statement. "The appointments were not properly filed and our voting location managers were instructed not to honor any appointment on behalf of the True the Vote group.”
There were charges yesterday that the candidates' names had either been falsified or merely copied on forms requesting observer status for the True the Vote at several Franklin County polling places. Many are in predominantly African American neighborhoods.
The irony of them cheating in order to monitor election fraud is just too delicious.
Elections Director William A. Anthony Jr. said the group may be investigated for possibly falsifying documents after today's election. The forms themselves warn that elections falsification is a fifth-degree felony...
One person told the elections board that she attended True the Vote training sessions and the observers were instructed to use cameras to intimidate voters when they enter the polling place, record their names on tablet computers and send them to a central location, and attempt to stop questionably qualified voters before they could get to a voting machine.
“These allegations by the Ohio Democratic Party are dangerous and offensive,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement. “The facts are simple: no citizen volunteer -- including...anyone else trained by True the Vote -- took any action that was either illegal or unethical, particularly as it pertains to the placement of poll watchers."
The statement added: “This is a final, desperate attempt to deny citizens their right to observe elections. The Ohio Democratic Party has projected paranoia on an international scale by promoting the idea that concerned citizens would dare observe elections to ensure a fair process. If the Ohio Democratic Party thinks True the Vote-trained poll watchers are legion, wait until it meets our lawyers.”
A partial list of precincts targeted by a Pittsburgh Tea Party group working on behalf of the Republican Party shows that nearly 80 percent of the voters in those precincts are African-American, compared to 13 percent countywide, according to civil rights and union groups who on Monday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.
An Ohio political blog is reporting that forms submitted to election officials by Tea Party spin-off group True the Vote in Franklin County -- which includes Columbus -- show poll watchers heading to 28 precincts, where most voters are African-American. Overall, the county electorate is 20 percent African-American.
"We've been concerned from the beginning that the efforts of True the Vote and aligned groups were going to be targeted largely in communities of color," said Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "We've seen in the past where these kinds of tactics can lead to intimidation and harassment of voters."
A potentially even greater concern now is that the groups will use the voter challenge process "for the express purpose of creating lines and confusion," Marshall said.
Prohibitively long lines, particularly where Democrats are in the majority, are a net plus for Republicans; extraordinarily long lines for early voting in South Florida resulted from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's rollback of early voting days there.
An Allegheny County judge on Tuesday issued an order to halt electioneering outside a polling location in Homestead.
County officials received a complaint shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday that Republicans outside a polling location on Maple Street in Homestead were stopping people outside the polls and asking for identification.
The order states: “Individuals outside the polls are prohibited from questioning, obstructing, interrogating or asking about any form of identification and/demanding any form of identification from any prospective voter.”
Of course, what legal is also almost unbearably stupid:
Poll watchers will ask for photo ID, but voters need not show identification for this year’s election.
They can ask, but voters have to know that they must tell them to go to hell.
Here's the thing: it's an African American precinct. Are they suggesting that this black panther is intimidating black Romney voters? I don't think that's a serious problem. Every last black Romney voter either works for the Republican Party or Fox News so it's highly unlikely they're voting in this precinct.
No, for Fox's charges to make sense, these "black panthers" must be Romney supporters. Just sayin'.