Friday, October 29, 2004

Legal Battle for Election has started. 

From the Washington Post:

GOP Challenging Voter Registrations
Civil Rights Groups Accuse Republicans Of Trying to Disenfranchise Minorities

By Jo Becker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 29, 2004; Page A05

Republicans yesterday continued to challenge the validity of tens of thousands of voter registrations in Ohio and other key states in the presidential election while a coalition of civil rights and labor groups sued the GOP, contending the Republican efforts were aimed at removing eligible minority voters from the rolls.

After initially saying he would not contest a Wednesday ruling halting the challenges, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) worked with other election officials who asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati to allow GOP challenges to 35,000 voters from mostly urban and minority areas to proceed before the election. As of late last night, the court had not ruled.

Also yesterday, Republicans in Wisconsin attempted to challenge the registrations of 5,600 voters in Milwaukee but were turned down in a unanimous decision by the city's bipartisan election board.

The Republican challenges in Ohio, Wisconsin and other battleground states prompted civil rights and labor unions to sue in U.S. District Court in Newark, saying the GOP is violating a consent decree, issued in the 1980s by Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise and still in effect, that prevents the Republicans from starting "ballot security" programs to prevent voter fraud that target minorities.

Judith A. Browne, acting co-director of the Advancement Project, which filed the lawsuit along with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said the Republican "challenges were, and currently are, used to disenfranchise minority voters."

But Republicans denied that they were targeting black voters. Bobby Burchfield, an attorney for the Republican National Committee, told Debevoise that "troubling reports" of fictitious names such as Mary Poppins appearing on Ohio's rolls prompted the challenges.