The Democrat said the appeals court decision risks disenfranchising voters.
COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio’s top elections chief has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a dispute over whether the state is required to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility, a spokesman for her office said Thursday.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, filed an appeal with the high court late Wednesday, said spokesman Jeff Ortega.
On Tuesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati sided with the Ohio Republican Party and ordered Brunner to set up a system that provides names of newly registered voters whose driver’s license numbers or Social Security numbers don’t match records in other government databases.
The GOP contends the information for counties will help prevent fraud.
“If the Sixth Circuit’s decision is allowed to stand, an untold number of legitimate voters in Ohio will be forced to re-establish the bona fides of their vote before the county boards of elections, or they will stay home out of frustration or confusion,” Brunner said in her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. “ORP’s unsupported invocations of voter fraud hardly warrant such monumental interference with the electoral process.”
At least 200,000 newly registered voters have mismatched data, according to an initial review by Brunner’s office. About 666,000 Ohioans have registered to vote since January, with many doing so before the contested Democratic presidential primary election between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in March.
Brunner has said that mismatches can be due to simple spelling errors or other discrepancies, and that federal law never intended for mismatches to be the only grounds for disqualifying voters.
Brunner’s office said Wednesday that she would comply with the lower court’s ruling. Ortega had said the office would release a statement later Thursday on why she chose to file an appeal.
Brunner has called the issue a veiled attempt at disenfranchising voters and said other checks exist to help determine eligibility.
She questioned the timing of the GOP lawsuit and said it shows that Republicans are trying to inject confusion at the last minute. The state’s database matching registration information against Bureau of Motor Vehicle and Social Security records has been up and running in previous elections, including the 2006 gubernatorial election when Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was in office, she said.
Ohio Republicans issued a statement calling the situation a shameful mess. They criticized her for filing an appeal after first saying she would comply with the earlier court ruling. Brunner said she has already taken steps to comply with the order despite the appeal.
“This appeal is stunning in its attempt to defy the law and conceal the fraud in this election,” said Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine.