By John Byrne
Ohio's voting rolls are in the news -- again.
Ohio's Secretary of State told reporters Thursday that she can't check the state's newly registered voter database for fraud because it was "poorly constructed," even though a cursory review of newly registered voters revealed 200,000 discrepancies.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, said her office tried to check the new or revised registrations after a Republican Party lawsuit that sought to require new registrations to be vetted for fraud. But her office concluded that the checks could crash the entire state database of 8.3 million voters -- "too risky a proposition," according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Republicans' lawsuit has been dismissed.
"If we were to try to modify it to do that, it would make the system unstable and would actually" compromise accuracy, Brunner told reporters.
Earlier this month, the Democrat told the paper that most of the at least 200,000 discrepancies in the new registrations were likely due to new voters incorrectly scribbling their driver's license or Social Security numbers, and were not deliberate.
Ohio's GOP Party Chairman suggested that the announcement five days before the election was politically convenient and that Brunner hadn't been doing her job.
"If she was doing what she was supposed to be doing over the last two years, this wouldn't be an issue and we wouldn't be stuck with better than 200,000 mismatched voter registrations hanging out there creating doubt," Chairman Kevin DeWine told the Plain Dealer.
If so, however, it would appear that Ohio Republicans are getting a dose of their own medicine. Ohio's former Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and Bush-Cheney's 2004 Ohio chairman repeatedly took flak for intentionally trying to disenfranchise voters in the last presidential election and faced myriad lawsuits as a result. Blackwell's subsequent run for governor flopped.
The state GOP's lawsuit attempting to force Brunner to release the names of voters with mismatched information -- such as Social Security numbers -- was dismissed by the Supreme Court. Ohio's Republican congressional delegation then asked the Bush Justice Department to get involved, and even asked President George W. Bush to "lean" on the Department.
Bush apparently tried, but the Justice Department demurred.