On Tuesday a federal appeals court ordered that Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, must set up a system by Friday to verify the eligibility of new voters as well as make the information available to the 88 counties of the state. The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling from last week which demanded Brunner use other government records to check new voters for registration fraud. Ohio Republicans sued Brunner, who is a Democrat.
Since January, about 666,000 Ohioans have registered to vote, many doing so before the Democratic primary this past spring. Since then state Republicans have filed a number of challenges to the registrations and Brunner’s election rules. Ohio Republicans have not only helped voters file lawsuits against local boards of election over registration rules, absentee ballot requests, and a weeklong period that permitted registration and voting on the same day.
A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit court sided with Brunner last week. However, after hearing an appeal today the full panel sided with the Republican party and US District Judge George Smith in Columbus, who had ordered Brunner to devise a way to verify voter registration information and make it available to county election boards.
Brunner had previously said that nothing in the federal Help America Vote Act required her to do what the district court ordered, and argued that it would take at least two to three days to create the necessary computer programs.
The rulings today now implore Brunner to verify new registrations by comparing it against data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration.
Ohio is considered a key battleground state in the 2008 election with its 20 electoral votes.