ACLU of Ohio Lambastes Ohio Republican Party and Secretary of State Over Voter 'Challengers'

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
October 29, 2004 12:00 am

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Partisan Vote Challenges Perpetuate Politics of Fear and Intimidation, Says ACLU

CLEVELAND – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today strongly condemnation the Secretary of State and the Ohio Republican Party’s attempts to place so-called “challengers” at polling places in predominantly African American precincts on Election Day.

“What we see from the Republican Party in Ohio is an orchestrated plan to disfranchise the African American community in this state,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “Here in Ohio in 2004 we are looking at a return to Jim Crow electoral politics with a viciousness reminiscent of the racism of the early 1960s in the deep South.”

Today’s statement came in response to a proposed plan by the state’s Republican party to station 250 voter challengers in predominantly African American precincts in Ohio. The ACLU of Ohio warned that the presence of partisan challengers would lead to massive delays and would cause voters to leave polls without ever casting their ballots. These efforts, said the ACLU, represent the sort of threat to minority voters that was rampant in the 1950s and 1960s before the federal Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965.

“In places like Hamilton County, we have seen that there is a conscious effort by the Republican Party to target the African American community,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeff Gamso. “In Hamilton County, 250 out of 251 precincts targeted by Republicans with challengers are African American precincts. All Ohioans should be embarrassed by these tactics and ought to reject the politics of fear, intimidation, and race hatred.”

As part of its Election Day efforts, the ACLU’s national Voting Rights Project and various ACLU state affiliates will monitor polls and respond to any incidents of voter intimidation, vote suppression or election foul-ups. Voters with complaints are encouraged to call the organization’s toll-free voter hotline, 1-877-523-2792. The ACLU has already distributed more than 100,000 voter empowerment cards in English and Spanish, which contain information for voters on their rights and ways to avoid problems when voting.

For more information on the ACLU’s voter protection efforts, go to /node/9979.

To download voter empowerment cards, go to /vote

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