Saturday, October 30, 2004
Ohio Voter Suppression Close-Up
Pate Nave, formerly the City Attorney for the Port of Los Angeles, was all set for a showdown today, in a hearing about Republican challenges to local voting rolls. Also ready were a number of well-established long-time voters--not just the new registrants whom the Republicans are especially focusing on. But a series of Federal Court decisions shut down the process, frustrating those who came down to testify on their experience. While they had their registrations individually restored, they were not allowed to publicly testify and expose the reckless nature of the Republican challenge process at the local level. As a result, thousands of bogus challenges from the GOP are expected at the polls on Tuesday.

"A number of people who had received challenges, including the military officer in charge of recruitment in Northern Ohio, showed up at the court," Nave told Random Lengths.

On Thursday, October 28, Judge Susan J. Dlott, of Federal District Court in Cincinnati, blocked hearings on challenges for six county election boards. The ruling was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit the next morning. That afternoon, Judge Dlott issued an injunction blocking the challenge hearings statewide.

"People asked to speak anyway, but the two Republicans refused to agree to that," Nave said. Those who came to testify "were pretty upset about it," he added. "There were a number of telling stories."

"They challenged four professors at the University of Toledo, a Vietnam Vet with two purple hearts... A lot of students got challenged."

The challenges were generated by Republican mailing. Letters that came back were relied upon as "proof" that the registrations were suspect. But according to local newspaper reports, some or all of the letters were sent registered mail, meaning they had to be personally signed for. Added to that was a lot of bad addressing, a phenomena well-known to those who've ever done precinct-level election work.

"They sent a lot of it to apartments, where the apartment number wasn’t on the address," Nave said, as an example of how shoddy the contacting attempt was. "There was a lot of people who never got the mailing [on which the challenges were based. But when they sent out the challenges they got those. So you’ve got to wonder what was going on with that."

As a result, Nave said, "There’s a lot of people who are kind of upset about this," but there's not much time for anger now. "Our next issue is how people are going to get to vote on Tuesday."

Still, if the Ohio elections is close, a whirlwind of legal actions could ensue, and the legality of what Republicans have done so far will become a political (and perhaps a legal) issue.

As it is, "Several options being considered," Nave commented. "One is criminal prosecutions of each of the 6 challengers, each of whom signed challenges against 162 voters. They had no basis for it." In fact, Nave speculated, "They probably signed forms in blank, and they were filled out later."

"There’s also talk of civil rights actions against boards of elections, or specific members of board of elections that colluded with Republicans," Nave explained. Such action could proceed in both state and federal court.

A more immediate step would be a motion "to recoup the costs from the challengers because of these hearings." This is being considered by lawyers representing challenged votes, and by "the county prosecutor, too."

As it became obvious how flimsy they were, "The republicans had the chance to withdraw the challenges. But their higher-ups wouldn’t allow them to do that, so they’ve expended all this money for these things, all this staff time," Nave explained.

"The last one that I heard about was an action for defamation," Nave concluded. "The wording in the challenge was identical in all 35,000 cases. The Republican Party issued several press releases alleging widespread voter fraud. That’s pretty problematic, and is per se libel. So there are people talking about defamation actions against the Republican Party of Ohio."

When asked about the possibility of a RICO indictment, Nave responded, "I don't pretend to be an expert on that... Some local attorneys will probably figure that out."

What is clear is that some form of legal counter-attack is necessary in order to deter more voter suppression efforts in future elections.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Footnotes For "Cover Up: Bush's Missing Guard Duty"
Footnotes for "Cover Up: Bush's Missing Guard Duty; What CBS News Didn't Find" are available on our website at