Buckeye State or Banana Republic?
Ever since Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was elected following the near-Democratic sweep of statewide offices in November 2006, she has worked steadily to give her party the edge it needs to win the White House in 2008.
Knowing that no Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio, and that the Buckeye State gave George W. Bush his electoral margin of victory in 2004, Brunner has turned a blind eye to massive voter fraud throughout the state by Democratic party-aligned groups like ACORN. She is also flagrantly violating Ohio election law and pulling out all the stops for her man, Barack Obama, in this battleground state.
The most critical issue might be decided within the next few days. Secretary Brunner has unilaterally opened a one-week window, from September 30-October 6, for absentee voters to register and cast a ballot on the same day, with only the last four digits of th Social Security number needed to vote. No ID, no problem.
This method, of course, opens up the system to massive voter fraud. Not only that, but state law requires that voters be registered 30 days in advance of when they vote -- a provision of the law that Brunner's week-long window openly flouts. The Ohio GOP filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court earlier this month to put a stop to the practice.
Then on Thursday, the ACLU jumped into the fray by filing their own lawsuit in federal court in support of Brunner's plan, claiming that following the 30 day advance registration law could disenfranchise voters. Thus, the Ohio Supreme Court, which could rule at any moment on the matter, may end up being overruled by an unelected federal court judge. This reverses the scenario seen in 2000, when Democrats complained that the U.S. Supreme Court intervened against the Florida Supreme Court's attempts to erase Bush's razor thin victory there. Democrat complaints about federal intervention in state elections appear to depend on whose ox (invariably the GOP's) is getting gored.
Secretary Brunner's same-day registration and voting plan only scratches the surface of the partisan warfare she has waged to ensure Ohio swings for Barack Obama and her fellow Democrats on November 4.
In a move to actively suppress GOP absentee voting, Brunner has directed county election boards to reject potentially thousands of Republican applications for absentee ballots prepared by the McCain campaign, which sent out more than 1 million applications. The applications include a check box to note that the applicant is a qualified voter. Brunner, however, has stated that if the box isn't checked, the application must be rejected.
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.