Bush Orders Purge of 200,000 Ohio Voters

10-28-08, 2:15 pm

Voting rights organizations this week rejected a Bush administration effort to interfere in Ohio's electoral process by ordering a purge of some 200,000 voters from that state's voter rolls. The US Supreme Court earlier this month declared such an effort to purge voters illegal.

In a letter to the Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union described the Bush administration's actions as an 'intrusion' that 'represents partisan politics at its worst.' Purging so many voters on a phony basis just prior to the election 'invites chaos and undermines the integrity of the democratic process,' the letter added.

Last Friday, at the urging of Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, the White House requested the Justice Department investigate whether 200,000 newly registered Ohio voters must reconfirm their registration before November 4th or be purged, according to the ACLU.

New voter registrations have tended to favor Democratic candidates in Ohio.

With this action, the Bush administration is attempting the to swing the election in Ohio to John McCain by demanding that state match as many as 200,000 voter registration forms to other government databases. If exact matches are not found, that voter registration would be eliminated.

If, for example, a voter used a middle initial on her driver's license but happened to put her full name on the voter registration form, under the Bush voter purge plan she would be a candidate for losing her right to vote. If a licensing bureau employee accidentally misspelled a voter's name when entering it into a government database, that voter could lose their right to vote.

It was for this reason that the US Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Ohio could not use such a matching system as the evidence shows that discrepancies are numerous. Studies in Los Angeles County, New York City, Seattle, and Florida in recent election cycles found that between 15 and 30 percent of government databases contain typos and data entry errors that might have disqualified voters under matching schemes. If such a process is used in Ohio, many thousands of lawfully registered voters are likely to lose their right to vote, the court ruled.

Other than partisan politics, the Bush administration's effort to purge Ohio voters has neither a legal basis nor practical one, the ACLU charged. “Despite the lack of any credible evidence of voter fraud, the White House continues to pursue this probe,' the letter to the Justice Department read. 'If this purge goes forward, lawfully registered voters could be removed from the rolls as a result of typos or other innocent discrepancies.'

The ACLU insisted that the Justice Department refuse Bush's demand to purge voters and uphold the right to vote in Ohio.