Congressional Leader Sends Letter to Attorney General

Republican members of the Ohio Congressional delegation, led by Minority Leader John Boehner, sent a letter late Monday to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking him to use his legal authority to compel the Ohio Secretary of State, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, to comply with federal election law under Section 303 of the Help America Vote Act or HAVA. Time is critical as Friday, October 24th is the last day Brunner is required to keep the early and absentee vote ballots in their envelopes with identifiers that would allow for any illegal ballots to be disqualified.

In a written statement released with the letter late Tuesday, Boehner said, “As the eyes of the nation once again turn to Ohio in this critical election, partisan politics are making a mockery of our electoral system. Secretary of State Brunner has wasted countless tax dollars and the precious little time we have before the election to fight against protecting the rights of eligible Ohio voters to cast their ballots without questioning whether their votes will count. It is imperative that every Ohioan who is eligible to vote have confidence in our system and the best way to assure voters that this election is fair is to cross-check newly registered voters maintained in the Secretary of State’s database. Secretary Brunner’s shameful partisan actions are a black eye on the Buckeye State.”

President Bush and Congress worked together to address voter concerns over election standards and issues with the punch card voting systems that had subjected America to the nightmare of 24-hour news coverage of hanging, pregnant, swinging door and dimpled chads in Florida in the 2000 elections. HAVA was signed into law in 2002 setting minimum administration standards for federal elections and forming the Election Assistance Commission offering support to states with a goal of phasing out punch card voting systems.
Section 303 of HAVA states in part, “… each State, acting through the chief State election official, shall implement, in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner, a single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list defined, maintained, and administered at the State level that contains the name and registration information of every legally registered voter in the State and assigns a unique identifier to each legally registered voter in the State.” The statue also requires that this computerized list “shall be coordinated with other agency databases” within the state and that all local election officials “shall have access” to the information. The failure by Brunner to meet these minimum standards for administration required by federal law in a federal election offers the opportunity for voter fraud in Ohio on a massive scale.

The action brought by the GOP against Brunner asked that she be compelled to release voter registration forms with questionable validity to county boards of elections for identity verification. A reported 200,000 of the over 666,000 new registrations being held by Brunner’s office have serious problems such as drivers license or Social Security numbers that do not match up.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the GOP as a private party lacked “standing to enforce HAVA’s requirements.” The Court did not address the merits of the case. Under Section 401 of HAVA, the U.S. Justice Department does have standing and it is under this federal authority that the Ohio Republican Congressional delegation is requesting action.

According to Boehner’s Ohio spokesperson, Jessica Towhey, the letter was delivered to the Attorney General on Monday. At deadline Tuesday night, Towhey told me that to her knowledge there had been no response from the Justice Department.