Republicans intend to place GOP recruits inside Ohio polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of certain voters. The Obama campaign told OffTheBus it intends to counter with the most massive voter protection effort Ohio has ever seen. "Democrats learned their lesson in 2004," said the high-level spokesman.
GOP officials defended their plans by pointing out that aggressive moves by Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio could easily lead to fraud. Every vote matters in this battleground state, which could emerge as a pivotal hot-spot on Nov. 2.
Now Ohio officials are scrambling to prepare for GOP disruptions to the voting process, which could lead to ugly scenes and long longs that frighten away voters. "This creates chaos and confusion at the polling site" according to Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, an international association of election officials. "But most courts say it's permissible by state law and therefore can't be denied."
According to an Obama spokesperson, the Dems will "meet -- if not double -- the number of GOP recruits We've been recruiting in-state and out-state for months. Nearly 90 percent of our volunteers are lawyers or law students. We are well-organized, and have a mountain of resources at our disposal." The Obama campaign said they have been ramping up for months, to aggressively defend every vote in this battleground state.
Republicans traditionally enlist their largest numbers of recruits in the heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton, and other large cities.
In Youngstown, Democrat organizers are ready to meet the challenge. "We have a robust voter protection program in place, to make sure every vote legally cast will be counted," Tom Reynolds, deputy communications director for the Obama campaign, told OffTheBus.
Already the challenges have begun. Earlier this month, the GOP successfully challenged 200,000 names on the Ohio voter list, however this lower-court ruling was tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court days later. Last Friday, President Bush asked the Justice Dept. to look into whether those 200,000 new Ohio voters must "reconfirm" their registrations before Election Day, to make certain mismatches don't signal fraudulent registrations.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans have waged huge campaigns to register millions of new voters in all the tossup states. The developments in Ohio provide a glimpse of how those efforts could play out on Election Day.