Friday, October 29, 2004

Ohio GOP officials confronted by angry voters. 


Immigrant responds
Twinsburg resident Errol Horam's registration was challenged twice.
An immigrant from Jamaica, Horam, 55, said he came to the United States because ``it is the greatest democracy on the face of the earth.''
``I am disappointed in the Republican Party,'' Horam said as he left the hearing room.
``I'm really disappointed that they are trampling on people's rights and democracy and depriving them of their right to vote.''
The angry voters had the Republicans on the defensive.
``Why'd you do it?'' one challenged voter shouted out at Calhoun. ``Who the hell are you?'' the man asked.
``What the hell do you care?'' replied Calhoun, an attorney.
After the hearing, Calhoun said he felt the challenges were legitimate.
``I thought there was reason to challenge them based on what was told to me by associates at the Summit County Republican Party on behalf of the Ohio Republican Party,'' he said.
Lisa McCraney of Tallmadge, whose husband RaShawn McCraney's registration was challenged, stepped up to the microphone and took to task those who filed the challenges.
``We work hard, just like you do, trying to make our living, trying to prove ourselves in this world to get to the point where we are 80 years old like you.
``But you signed your name to 200 documents of people you have never met a day in your life, challenging our right to vote.''
She finished talking to the four by telling them they needed to apologize.
Arshinkoff, chairman of the Summit County GOP, pointed to the state party and said Chairman Robert Bennett should be held accountable.
Bennett on Thursday defended the GOP's challenge of voter registrations, saying that efforts by Democrats that registered the likes of Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy to vote warranted it. However, he said GOP attorneys -- other than just Morrison -- should have been at the hearing to represent the four party members who signed the challenges.
``I don't know what happened. I'm still looking into that,'' he said.
Once the board dismissed the challenges, Morrison and Summit County elections Director Bryan Williams led the challengers out of the hearing room and into a back stairwell. Doerler questioned why challenges were dismissed. Morrison, however, advised them against answering questions.
Bennett said the party would stand behind the four and provide them with legal assistance, should they face legal action for signing the challenges.
Probe sought
Pry and elections board member Wayne Jones said after the hearing that they intend to contact the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the challenges.
``You don't mess with somebody's right to vote,'' Jones said. He believes the effort to challenge legitimate voters is proof that Republicans are running scared in Ohio.
Arshinkoff and Hutchinson were obviously angry with the state party.
Arshinkoff compared the proceedings to a ``train wreck'' and said representatives from the Ohio Republican Party should have been at the hearing to defend the lists of challenges that it prepared.
``This was not good,'' he said, adding that he wished the challenges would not have been filed. ``This is like asking somebody who was just told by the dentist that we're going to pull all of your teeth out without novocaine if you want to go through the procedure again,'' Arshinkoff said.
``There was no evidence,'' Hutchinson said of the challenges.
Hutchinson said he didn't know if Horam was a Democrat or a Republican, but he was sure he won't be voting Republican in this election.
Both agreed that a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls would be the best way to protect voting.
Lisa A. Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or labraham@thebeaconjournal.com