Update: Human Events has learned that there is a Republican interpreter for Somali voters at the at the Morse Road early voter center and has modified the story.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Two volunteer poll workers at an Ohio voting station told Human Events that they observed van loads of Ohio residents born in Somalia - the state is home to the second-largest Somali population in the United States - being driven to the voting station and guided by Democratic interpreters on the voting process. No Republican interpreters were present, according to these volunteers.
While it's not unusual for get-out-the-vote groups to help voters get to the polls, the volunteers who talked to Human Events observed a number of troubling and questionable activities.
A source, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a volunteer outside the Morse Road polling center. She has witnessed Somalis who cannot speak English come to the polling center. They are brought in groups, by van or bus. The Democrats hand them a slate card and say, ???vote Brown all the way down.??? Given that Sherrod Brown is the incumbent Democrat Senator in Ohio, one can assume that this is the reference.
Non-English speaking voters may use an interpreter. The interpreters are permitted by law to interpret for the individual voting; however, they are forbidden from influencing their vote in any way. Another source who also wishes to remain anonymous has seen Democrat interpreters show the non-English speaking Somalis how to vote the Democrat slate that they were handed outside. According to this second source, there are not any Republican Somali interpreters available.
The logical follow-up question is whether a non-English speaking person is an American citizen. Although Republican leadership in Ohio passed a voting reform law, it was repealed by the legislature itself after the Democrats threatened a referendum. According to the Ohio Secretary of State???s web site, someone wanting to vote early in Ohio must supply one of the following in writing on the absentee ballot form, whether voting early by mail or in person: an Ohio driver???s license number; the last four digits of the social security number; or a copy of a current and valid photo identification, military identification, or a current - within the last 12 months - utility bill, including cell phone bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the person???s name and address in addition to the voter registration acknowledgement.
The voter is not required to show the driver???s license or social security card, but must merely write it on the absentee ballot request form. While the individual would be required to show a utility bill, bank statement or other printed document if he or she chooses that option, this is in lieu of writing the driver???s license or social security number. Therefore, the information cannot be checked against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or other state databases. Essentially, a person is asked to check a box stating that they are a citizen, and the poll worker is to trust that they are the person who is listed on the item being shown or the information being written. In other words, someone can be an illegal resident of the state of Ohio and the United States, get an apartment, turn on the heat, bring in the Columbia Gas bill, register to vote by the deadline, and vote by showing that same bill. There is then no verification that this individual is a citizen of the United States.
Matt McClellan, the press secretary for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, explained, ???There is a process to challenge a voter???s eligibility. The point in time for a challenge to be brought ended mid October. A poll worker could challenge a voter if they had questions as to whether or not a voter was registered or eligible to vote.??? However, if the poll worker does not raise the issue at the time the voting occurs, that person???s vote will otherwise be counted on election day along with everyone else???s vote. McClellan was not aware of any reports of irregularities at the Morse Road voting place in Franklin County.
Two phone calls and a text message to the Public Information Office at the Franklin County Board of Elections were not returned.
According to the Somali Community Association of Ohio???s web site, over 45,000 Somalis live in Ohio. Only 40 percent have become citizens of the United States, and only 25 percent speak English well enough to get a job.
The second source mentioned has seen voter intimidation at this same voting place. A Mitt Romney bus stopped near the voting center, approximately 30 Democrats who were outside handing out the slate cards rushed over to the bus. They yelled at the bus, and swarmed around its door when anyone attempted to exit the bus. This, from the ???tolerant left.???
All elements of this story are still developing and will be updated as new information is uncovered. Stay tuned.
Sara Marie Brenner, a special correspondent for Human Events, is a member of the Powell, Ohio City Council and blogs about politics at the Brenner Brief.