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Buckeye State or Banana Republic?

But as Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson observed earlier this week, a valid application for absentee ballots can be submitted on the back of a grocery sack, as long as it includes the voter's name, address, signature, and government-issued ID information, making the check box on the McCain-printed absentee applications superfluous. Two voters who had their applications rejected on that basis have sued to stop the secretary of state's edict, and at least one government official has issued an opinion that Brunner is acting contrary to state law.

Jennifer Brunner's attempts to suppress Republican absentee voters in Ohio is far from trivial, as more than 300,000 voters have already applied for absentee ballots in just the four largest counties in the state. In my own home of Franklin County (Columbus), 130,000 applications -- or 16 percent of registered voters countywide -- have already been received. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are trying to bank these early votes in their favor, which will almost certainly be necessary to secure a win in the Buckeye State and net Ohio's crucial 20 electoral votes.

Not all of Brunner's partisan actions have been so overt. In fact, she has been planning ahead for legal challenges to her efforts by rigging county board of elections in favor of Democrats. Last year, the Canton Repository reported comments made by  Stark County Democratic Chairman Johnnie Maier that Brunner was attempting to stack local election boards with Democratic lawyers to counter the GOP:

The party chairman said Brunner wanted county Democratic parties to select attorneys to fill spots on county boards of elections -- to help counter purported legal maneuvers by Republican board members to suppress the Democratic vote. The board always has two Democrats and two Republicans.

And then there is the blind eye that Brunner has been turning to flagrant election fraud through bogus voter registrations submitted by ACORN. The Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Board of Elections is currently investigating 75,000 ACORN registrations, with multiple registrations under the same name, different birth dates, and non-existent addresses. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported just a few weeks ago:

Board employees are unsure how many of the cards are fraudulent. But the voter registration department received so many suspicious cards that it began compiling a binder with evidence. The binder grew to be an inch-thick.

Numerous reports of bogus registrations submitted by ACORN and other Democratic Party-aligned organizations have surfaced statewide, and yet no action has been taken by the secretary of state. Added to her overlooking systematic voter fraud by Democratic Party allies, Jennifer Brunner's flagrant ignoring of election laws, suppressing Republican voters, and stacking local election boards represent an unparalleled corrupting of Ohio's election system.

Thus, Obama's chances to win the White House have improved dramatically by having one of his own as Ohio's highest election official. But the price of his victory might be for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to turn the Buckeye State into banana republic.