OH Voter Suppression Efforts of Tea Party Group Under Investigation

Vote restriction and suppression is a major priority for Republicans across the country. Last Thursday I discussed vote suppression in the three big swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and I argued that winning these states was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's only hope of winning. Romney is trailing President Obama in all three states, only Florida is close.

The only reason Minnesota won't be in play for Romney is Mark Dayton eked out a victory against Tom Emmer. Emmer and the Republican-controlled legislature would have passed vote restriction laws and I'd be blogging about Gov. Emmer's vote suppression efforts. Since Dayton won, all they could do is get the vote restriction amendment on the ballot.

First off, a panel of federal judges dealt a blow to Ohio GOP vote suppression efforts. They ruled early voting couldn't be limited. It was unanimous. They differed on what aspect of the constitution this vote restriction violated.

 

Plaintiffs introduced extensive evidence that a significant number of Ohio voters will in fact be precluded from voting without the additional three days of in-person early voting. The district court credited statistical studies that estimated approximately 100,000 Ohio voters would choose to vote during the three-day period before Election Day, and that these voters are disproportionately "women, older, and of lower income and education attainment." The district court concluded that the burden on Plaintiffs was "particularly high" because their members, supporters, and constituents represent a large percentage of those who participated in early voting in past elections. The State did not dispute the evidence presented by Plaintiffs, nor did it offer any evidence to contradict the district court's findings of fact. Plaintiffs did not need to show that they were legally prohibited from voting, but only that "burdened voters have few alternate means of access to the ballot."

Secondly, an Ohio tea party group is in trouble for suing to kick a wide swath of Democratic-leaning voters off the voter rolls:

The tea party organization launching a multi-pronged voter suppression effort this election is under investigation by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for a possible "criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights."

Cummings sent a letter to True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht warning her that the Ohio branch of the group, in suing to throw thousands of students, trailer park residents, homeless people and African Americans off the voting rolls, may be violating the law:

 

At some point, an effort to challenge voter registrations by the thousands without any legitimate basis may be evidence of illegal voter suppression. If these efforts are intentional, politically motivated and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.

These are teabaggers after all. They doubled down, naturally.

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