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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Cuyahoga County Cardstock Clash, Continued 

OK, so we're talking all of Ohio, here, not just one county, but I adore alliteration.

The Dayton Daily News has more on the story I linked to yesterday about Ohio's GOP Secretary of State suddenly choosing to enforce an obscure regulation about the thickness of voter registration cards after reports suggesting that Democrats were out-registering new voters in Ohio:
Cuyahoga County board of elections officials are ignoring the edict because they have already had an avalanche of new registrations submitted on forms printed on newsprint in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

"We don't have a micrometer at each desk to check the weight of the paper," said Michael Vu, director of the Cuyahoga County Board.

Blackwell's office has given the Cuyahoga board a special dispensation to accept the newsprint registration forms. The requirement is because the forms are designed to be mailed like post-cards and must be thick enough to survive mechanical sorters at the U.S. Post Office, according to Blackwell's spokesman Carlo LoParo.

"Our directive stands and it is specifically in place to protect new registrants to make sure the forms are not destroyed," LoParo said.
A couple of things to note: not every county has been granted this dispensation. In Montgomery County, the deputy director of the county elections board has estimated that a few hundred people might not have a chance to vote because of the cardstock regulation, and says there's no reason to demand heavy cardstock be used.

Furthermore, if the regulations are designed to protect voters from having their cards lost in the mail, does it make any sense to penalize those voters who somehow, miraculously, managed to get their too-thin voter registration cards to the authorities, despite the fearsome mechanical sorters that blocked their way? [Hint: The answer is "no."]

The Daily News sees another historical reason for the cardstock rule than that cited by LoParo:
The heavy-weight paper was a requirement when the cards were kept for years, were used to keep track of when a person voted, and were the main way to check signatures to combat voter fraud and verify petitions. But many boards, including both Montgomery and Cuyahoga, scan the signatures into a computer database and no longer record voting history on the cards.
Probably what happened is that nobody told the Secretary of State about the new computers, and he was just trying to protect voters. Right?

UPDATE: More on the story (including a similar dust-up over Ohio provisional ballots) in this article.

UPDATE 2: Jesse at Pandagon has much, much more.

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