NEW VOTERS Republicans challenge cards returned in mail
Officials plan to be ready to go on Election Day.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- State Republicans are challenging the veracity of approximately 35,000 new voter registrants where election cards were returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service.
The challenges filed Friday stretch across 65 of Ohio's 88 counties.
Republicans blamed "so-called '527' Democratic front groups" like America Coming Together for the challenged registrations. The designation refers to independent soft-money political groups registered under section 527 of the IRS tax code.
"It's clear there's been a systematic effort by these Democrat '527' fund groups to undermine the Ohio election process," said Jeff Flint, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party in Cuyahoga County.
Flint helped file approximately 17,000 challenges in Cuyahoga, the most of any single county on Friday, according to state Republicans.
"It was literally five banker boxes full of sheets," said Jane Platten, spokeswoman for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
David Sullivan, voter protection coordinator for the Ohio Democratic Party, called Friday's challenges an "unprecedented effort to throw tens of thousands of voters off of Ohio's voting rolls.
"We welcome the individualized proof to validate their claim that each and every person is not in fact not eligible to vote," Sullivan said in a release. "Returned mail or failure to vote in previous elections is not in fact proof."
Platten said county election officials were meeting to discuss how to handle the challenges and insisted they would be ready to go by Election Day.
The challenges to new voter registrations is the latest in a series of challenges facing Ohio election officials.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Ohio, saying the use of punch cards discriminates against minorities and low-income voters because a majority of them live in counties using those ballots.
Lawsuits also were filed over provisional ballots, those cast when a voter moves without notifying the elections board or when poll workers cannot find them on the rolls. Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell ordered boards not to allow voters to cast provisional ballots at the wrong polling place but direct them to the correct precinct.
U.S. District Judge James Carr in Toledo ruled that voters should be allowed to obtain provisional ballots in any polling place in their home county. Blackwell appealed.