Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges
jbru

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The legal wrangling begins

In Ohio, the legality of partisan representatives challenging the legitimacy of voters at the polls was, itself, challenged in two different lawsuits. Late Monday night, federal court judges in the two suits barred these challengers from the poll sites. In suits brought by the Democratic party of one county and by two black Cincinnati voters it was alleged in different ways that the GOP use of these individuals was being unfairly targeted at black voters.

Early Tuesday, a 3-judge panel of the Appeals Court ruled 2-1 to overturn the decisions (lumping them together). I, of course, like the wording of the dissenting judge's decision (quotes from http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/11/02/ohio.challengers.ap/index.html):
The dissent by Judge R. Guy Cole said the citizens of Ohio have the right to vote without the "threat of suppression, intimidation or chaos sown by partisan political operatives."

Cole said that partisan challengers are seeking to target precincts that have a majority black population, and that when "the fundamental right to vote without intimidation or undue burden is pitted against the rights of those seeking to prevent voter fraud ..." the court must err on the side of voters.
This, I think, is a better analysis than that of the majority opinion which states:
The federal appeals court said that while it's in the public interest that registered voters cast ballots freely, there is also "strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory processes to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote."
Given the history that this country has in preventing people from voting who have legitimate right to do so, I think providing additional road blocks to voting (Ohio's poll workers would already be challenging someone whose signature didn't match the poll book or that was recognized as not being from the precinct) is counter-productive to the free running of our republic.
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