CommunityPam's House Blend

The rigging and theft of the election has begun. Take a look at the GOP’s tactics in Ohio.

In yet another sign of how fiercely Ohio will be contested in the Nov. 2 presidential election, Republicans challenged 35,427 newly registered voters yesterday. And both parties named thousands of people to be challengers at the polls.

The Ohio GOP said it is questioning new voters in 65 counties where mail sent to them was returned as undeliverable.

But overburdened elections officials were left wondering how to comply with a state law requiring a hearing on each challenge no later than two days before the election.

“I’m not sure how we’re going to accomplish this,” said John Williams, deputy elections director in Hamilton County. “We’ve never had anything like this before.”

Those who have been challenged must receive a letter by first-class mail no later than three days before a hearing to answer the challenge — with a lawyer and witnesses, if they choose.

In Franklin County, where 4,219 challenges were filed, officials are considering using the Veterans Memorial auditorium to hold hearings.

“Burden or not, we’ll do it to the best of our ability,” said Matthew Damschroder, county elections director.

Damschroder said hearings can be short — showing a driver’s license or utility bill can prove residency. But if mail was returned once, hearing notices also might be returned — meaning no hearing can be held.

William Anthony Jr., chairman of both the Franklin County elections board and the county Democratic Party, said public notices might be appropriate to ensure new voters know they have been challenged.

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, stressed the challenges will not result in voters being turned away from polling places on Election Day.

“If an individual’s registration is deemed invalid by (a county election’s) board and the person shows up at the poll on Election Day, they will be given a provisional ballot,” LoParo said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding