This story was written by Melinda Gray, The Jambar
Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey are three people who Cuyahoga County officials don't expect to show up on Nov. 4 to vote. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, workers have turned in nearly 73,000 registration cards since January, according to reports from The Plain Dealer. Of those, more than 5,000 were missing information and could not be used. Additionally, the board could not verify 3,500 more forms. Therefore, those people will have to vote provisionally if they attend the polls. Cuyahoga County's ACORN has admitted that a large number of the 1.3 million new voter registration forms it has collected nationwide are indeed fraudulent. The voter fraud issue in Ohio came to a head on Oct. 17 when the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the long running voter registration fraud controversy case brought against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by the GOP. She had been ordered to turn over information concerning some 200,000 plus registration forms that did not match information in Ohio databases to the 88 county election boards. The case was overturned on a technicality that stated that the GOP did not have the right to bring this case forth. Later that same day the case was re-filed in the Ohio Supreme Court, where a decision has not yet been reached.Already there have been several documented cases of voter fraud statewide. In Hamilton County, near Cincinnati, there is overwhelming evidence that fraudulent votes have already been cast during the week when voters could register and cast their ballot on the same day. Attorney Mike O'Neill has been appointed to investigate 41 percent of the 610 ballots that were subpoenaed by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters. Deters stepped down from the case amid controversy over his Republican Party affiliations.Assistant County Prosecutor for the Board of Elections Dave Stevens said, "We should be able to resolve some of these fraudulent votes before the election, but my guess is there are over 100 illegal votes in the system already and they will not be taken care of until after the election."
When asked if he thought this would affect the election results he said, "Absolutely it will. The information Jennifer Brunner has would have been helpful, but we have other avenues of getting the information; it just may take us longer."Similar allegations have been leveled against ACORN elsewhere in the state. In Cuyahoga County there are at least two people who have admitted to registering illegally in response to persuasion by ACORN workers. According to the New York Post, Darnell Nash, a voter from Cleveland, has admitted to not only filling out several registration forms with fictitious addresses, but also to voting with one of those registrations. The Plain Dealer reported that Freddie Johnson, 19, filled out 73 voter registration cards when offered cigarettes and money by ACORN workers. Johnson said he was mostly trying to help the workers out. They allegedly begged him to fill out new cards over and over again so they could keep their jobs. ACORN has acknowledged that workers were given quotas to fill and were paid per person that they registered. Cuyahoga County Board of Elections representative Mike West stated, "We have not had any problems with registrations or votes." He refused to answer any other questions about the reported issues in his own district. Palestra.net, an online college news organization originating in Columbus, has been at the forefront of exposing voter fraud in Franklin County. Over the past two months they have uncovered more than 30 cases of actual voter fraud. An organization called Vote From Home placed five college student volunteers from Sen. Barack Obama's campaign in a house near The Ohio State University. They subsequently registered, voted and then left the state. On Oct. 24 all five votes were thrown out, but no harges are to be brought against them.Also on Oct. 24, 13 Obama campaign workers withdrew their votes stating that they did not understand Ohio residency laws. This came after Palestra.net pressured them to do so, and their names were published online.
There are 700 Obama campaign volunteers in Ohio, and according to Palestra.net and statements from the Democratic National Committee, at least 20 more fraudulent votes in Franklin County have not been withdrawn. Ballots were to be counted on Oct. 25, which was also the deadline for individuals to rescind illegal ballots. Unauthorized voters could still be prosecuted but their fraudulent votes are now intermingled with legitimate ballots, and they have since been counted.John McCain's camp was given the same warning to withdraw fraudulent votes and was found to have not cast any. Keith Lepak, professor of political science at Youngstown State University, said political parties like to keep an arms length relationship with these organizations. "That way if something like this happens they can say, 'it has nothing to do with us'," he said. Some students had mixed opinions about the possibility of voter fraud.When asked about the unfolding situation, junior Steve Tripepi said, "I feel very uncomfortable; I think it's just the tip of the iceberg." Still, Tripepi manages a positive outlook. "I am optimistic that overall the people's voice will be heard," he said.Junior Ralph Rich is also concerned, and said voter fraud can ruin either candidate's chances of becoming elected. "The Republican National Committee seems to be desperate in the polls. I've heard stories and seen news about how elections can be ruined by voter fraud," Rich said. Despite this, some students like junior Nicole Dzenowski say they aren't worried about voter fraud. "They're recognizing that it's happening and they're doing stuff to prevent it," Dzenowski said of voting officials. Sophomore Lindsey Swartz said the fraud wouldn't affect the election that much. "I wasn't aware of it, so maybe others aren't aware," Swartz said of voter fraud. "It never occurred to me that others would do that."