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ACLU Urges Rejection Of 200,00 Voter Challenges

ACLU Urges Attorney General To Reject White House Challenge Of 200,000 Registered Voters In Ohio (10/28/2008)

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org or media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – In a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey today, the American Civil Liberties Union demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) reject a White House request to challenge 200,000 registered voters in Ohio. The White House's request came days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied an attempt by Ohio Republicans to challenge voters with discrepancies between the information on their registration forms and other government databases. There is considerable evidence showing these databases are fraught with errors that could lead to the wrongful disfranchisement of thousands of lawful voters.

"With the election one week away, this kind of intrusion represents partisan politics at its worst. In addition, challenging – or purging – lawfully registered voters in the days before an election invites chaos and undermines the integrity of the democratic process," said the letter signed by ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero and Washington Legislative Office Director Caroline Fredrickson. "Despite the lack of any credible evidence of voter fraud, the White House continues to pursue this probe. If this purge goes forward, lawfully registered voters could be removed from the rolls as a result of typos or other innocent discrepancies."

Last Friday, at the urging of Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, the White House requested the Department of Justice investigate whether 200,000 newly registered Ohio voters must reconfirm their registration before November 4. However, the databases that would be used to compare the new voter lists are riddled with errors and could lead to massive disfranchisement solely due to typos or other data-entry mistakes.

The removal of voters based upon mismatched information at this late date would violate other federal statutes and constitutional provisions governing federal elections, including the National Voter Registration Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

"The Department of Justice has a responsibility to uphold the law and protect civil rights. We strongly urge you to reject this request from the White House," said the letter.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order protecting voters in Ohio from attempts to challenge their registrations based on small inaccuracies in government databases. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in that case.

A copy of the ACLU's letter to Attorney General Mukasey is available at: www.aclu.org/votingrights/gen/37407lgl20081028.html

For more information on the ACLU Voting Rights Project's efforts to fight voter suppression this election season, go to: www.votingrights.org

ENDS

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