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October 17th, 2008
09:41 PM ET

Score one for Ohio voters

Editor's note: The Supreme Court today threw out a lawsuit by the Ohio Republican Party that would have forced Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, to verify records of thousands of voters whose information didn't match up with government databases. The state Republican Party contends that there is widespread voter fraud in Ohio and Brunner "turned off" its process for verifying voter registrations while allowing Ohioans to cast ballots on the same day they registered. The justices in an unsigned opinion blocked a lower court order directing Brunner to update the state's voter registration database by today.

Ian Inaba
Co-founder, Video the Vote

Just hours away from having to release a list of about 200,000 voters whose names don’t match other government databases, the Supreme Court has granted Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a reprieve . The Court actually sidestepped the question of whether Brunner is in compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, deciding instead that the GOP had no standing to bring the case.

Although it ruled based on a technicality, we at Video the Vote think the Court landed on the side of the voters. Releasing the list would have led to more provisional ballots, partisan challenges, longer lines, and further erosion of confidence in our election system. And it would have done very little to prevent supposed “voter fraud,” which, as has been extensively documented, doesn’t need much preventing.

As an aside, while most voters will never have to cast a provisional ballot, or wait in hour long lines, it’s worth listening to those who have. There are few things more disempowering than having obstacles put between you and the voting booth.

This decision makes us wonder if the Court is taking pains to avoid helping (or appearing to help) one party over the other in fights over votes. After all, in some eyes, the shadow of the Bush v. Gore decision still hangs over the court.

Our only hope for election season: that 2008 doesn’t look like 2000 or 2004. The greatest democracy in the world can and should do better. But whatever happens, we will be there to get it on tape. If you’re interested in helping document the voting process in your community, please sign up at VideoTheVote.org.

Note: Ian Inaba is an award-winning director and producer whose credits include the Sundance-award-winning American Blackout, the controversial pre-election music video for Eminem's "Mosh," and the book True Lies. In 2006 he co-founded Video the Vote, a citizen journalism project that organizes volunteers to document voting irregularities. He is also the co-founder of GNN.tv, an independent news and film organization.


Filed under: Ian Inaba • Voting
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Marianne

    I'm glad the Supreme Court ruled the way they did for the Ohio voters. Apparently the only time the GOP is concerned with voter registration is when they are losing. Remember Al Gore and the Florida voters that lost their votes and cost Gore the election that had to be decided by the Supreme Court. Let the voters vote and exercise their Constitutional rights.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  2. Brenda Harris

    This is another of the republican party trying to steal this election as they have in past years. Doesn't it seem kind of funny that in the last few elections when republicans won the Democrat were ahead. As bad as Bush did in his first 4 and was unliked he could win again. The republicans think we are all stupid and maybe we have been and still are if we could think in the least of voting them in again or letting them steal this election.
    Computers do what you tell them to do. Get my drift. Somebody better count every vote. Maybe we need to all get finger printed and vote by finger print.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  3. Eleanor

    I'm a voter whose name on the voter registration doesn't match my social security name. Why? Because, no matter how many times I tell them, the local voter registration uses my two middle initials in the wrong order. Don't tell me that a Provisional Ballot would let me vote! They don't count the Provisional Ballots until after the election is decided. And, in order to have them count my Provisional Ballot, I'd have to travel to the county seat during office hours - a 40 mile round trip - to identify myself.

    This is just one more way the Republicans are trying to steal the election.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  4. lampe

    Rose: If you thought for one minute, that this race was being stolen from Obama, by McCain,would you still say the same thing? I have no problem, with the voting being left to the people. But, I think they should be old enough, alive, and only get to vote once. How do you explain, people on t.v. saying that they have registered 72 times? That is in no wat right, or fair.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  5. Roberto, Santa Monica

    Why voting in this country does not work as in all the other democratic countries? Why do you have to register to vote? In any European country, for example, the local administration simply looks where you have your residency (pay your taxes, get your driving license) and mails you the form certificate to bring on election day and the location where you have to go. It is up to you to go voting or not. That's it. It is so simple. Last election in Italy, more than 80% of the people casted their vote. It is not that difficult.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  6. Jt from TN

    How freaking hard can it be to make sure one real person cast one real vote, geeeesh, it's not rocket science, get the database updated then match social security no.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  7. Chris Nandor

    It's important to make sure all legal voters can vote.

    It's also important to make sure illegal voters cannot vote.

    Brunner is completely ignoring the latter, and the voters are NOT winning here: every illegal vote takes a little bit away from every legal vote.

    October 17, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  8. Sarah (another one)

    Cindy/GA,

    Do you ever do anything besides blindly attack Obama? Your comments are so predictable. Not only that, you fail to document most of what you say. Could you please post a link to a story about the "many members of ACORN" who have been "tried and convicted of voters fraud"?

    October 17, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  9. Karen

    Finally one for the American Voter!!

    October 17, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  10. Jo Ann

    You have got to be kidding? This was a terrible decision! Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner knew about these discrepancies and mismatched lists a long time ago, if she was so worried about voters being disenfranchised or inconvenienced she should have set up a system to verify these problem registrations long ago. It is obvious that she is just playing politics.

    There has been voter fraud in Ohio in the past, it is not as unlikely as Inaba suggests. She is trying to mislead the voters.

    Of course Inaba sees it as a good thing because the Obama campaign would benefit from any registration fraud. In Cuyahoga County alone ACORN, which has endorsed Obama, has handed in 72, 000 registrations this year many of which have been flagged for multiple registrations and other discrepancies. One man, Freddie Johnson, said that he was given cash and cigarettes by ACORN to register as many as 72 times.

    200,000 of the 666,000 voters who have registered in Ohio since January have records that do not match the Bureau of Motor Vehicles databases.

    ACORN should take some of the blame for deliberately overwhelming the system with all of these fraudulent registrations.

    I would be more than willing to be a little inconvenienced in order to have a fair election process.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    October 17, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  11. Bret Peters

    The government works? Pinch me I think I'm dreaming ! What is that feeling in my soul? Oh ! Thats hope.

    October 17, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  12. polunch

    All legally registered voters should be allowed to vote, However, the illegal practices of Acorn should not have been allowed to continue and by saying Good for you Supreme Court, you are invalidating the voices of legitimate voters of Ohio who may or may not have had different opinions. Now win or lose, Ohio will be the hanging chad state of the 2008 election.

    October 17, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  13. willie whyte

    Is this the same ACORN that John McCain blessed in 2006?

    October 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  14. Margaret Jones

    I would like to know what kind of anti goverment party Joe the plumber belongs to. Someone said he belongs to the red party and he admite he does not like the goverment telling him what to do with his money. When ask about the red party he belongs to he dodges the question.

    October 17, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  15. EJ (USA)

    Barack does not need Ohio to win regardless...

    October 17, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  16. Rose from Muscoy

    Good for the Supreme Court! The voting should be left to the people of the United States.

    October 17, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
  17. Larry

    Hmm what was it that happened in Chicago that enabled obama to get his opponents ballots tossed out? Did he let all voters be heard; where were his ethics then? I guess its different rules for him.

    October 17, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  18. Cindy

    Obviously Fay, you have no idea what you are talking about. ACORN was being investigated way before John McCain started talking about it. If you had a clue then you would also know that many members of ACORN have been tried and convicted of voters fraud. So ACORN trying to blame this recent scandal on new workers is inane since they have done this before!

    Cindy...Ga.

    October 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  19. Fay, CA

    This is very good news–it is disappointing but not surprising that the GOP has been trying to prevent people from exercising their right to vote under the guise of "voter fraud". Reports of vandalism and attacks on ACORN offices across the country have occurred in the aftermath of John McCain's criticism and misleading and inaccurate investigative reports about the group. It's good to know that swift action is being taken by Obama and the Democrats regarding this issue and that all voters in Ohio will be given a fair chance.

    October 17, 2008 at 8:57 pm |