Tea party poll watchers barred from Ohio polling stations

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 17:18 EDT
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The tea party-affiliated group True the Vote has been barred from monitoring polling places in Franklin County, the second largest county in Ohio, after allegedly submitting fraudulent forms.

“The Franklin County Board of Elections did not allow Election Day polling location observer appointments filed by the True the Vote group,” board spokesman Ben Pisctelli told The Columbus Dispatch in a statement. “The appointments were not properly filed and our voting location managers were instructed not to honor any appointment on behalf of the True the Vote group.”

Plunderbund reported that True the Vote had likely falsified or forged election observer forms submitted to the Franklin County Board of Elections. Board member Zachary Manifold told Plunderbund he was “amazed that a group that goes to such extreme lengths to claim voting fraud in Ohio would knowingly forge or misuse signatures to try to gain access to Franklin County polling locations.”

True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht denied he allegations, insisting that no one trained by True the Vote had done anything illegal or unethical. Engelbrecht said the incident was the Ohio Democratic Party’s “final, desperate attempt to deny citizens their right to observe elections” and vowed to take legal action.

The group had hoped to place poll watchers in predominately African American areas. True the Vote had asked to send poll watchers to 28 precincts in Franklin County — which includes the capital, Columbus. African Americans comprise more than half the population in 20 of the 28 targeted precincts, though they make up only about 12 percent of the state’s total population.

Left-leaning groups have accused True the Vote of seeking to intimidate Democratic voters.

A woman trained by True the Vote told the Franklin County Board of Elections that she had been told to aggressively record suspicious voters with cameras, record their names on a tablet computer, and attempt to stop them from voting. The election board noted that type of activity was illegal.

The Justice Department investigated the poll watching program after receiving a number of complaints about voter intimidation in Hispanic and African-American areas around Houston in 2010. Poll watchers allegedly were hovering over voters and being confrontational with election workers. However, no charges were ever filed against the group.

True the Vote says its campaign is non-partisan, yet its website contains numerous missives attacking liberals, including statements such as “vote fraud is nearly an exclusive crime of the left” and that the left wants “to be able to steal elections at will.”

[Casting a ballot via Shutterstock]

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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