Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Thousands of Ohio New Voter cards undeliverable


COLUMBUS - Thousands of cards mailed by county election boards to newly registered voters in Hamilton County and throughout the state are being returned because the people can't be found.

John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said the situation indicates that there might not be as many new voters as some expect in a state deemed crucial in the presidential election.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett on Tuesday said it's a result of statewide registration fraud conducted by independent groups that support Democratic candidates.

"By most accounts, their work can only be considered sloppy, haphazard and, in some cases, downright illegal," Bennett said, noting that the state party plans to take out full-page ads in Ohio newspapers encouraging citizens to stop voter fraud.

Democratic Party spokesman Dan Trevas said the fraud uncovered in Ohio equates to "minor errors" when viewed in the bigger picture.

"The vast majority of those registered for the first time are intent on voting," he said.

Bennett cited instances in 10 counties where potentially fraudulent voter registration forms were submitted.

He said many were submitted by groups he terms "auxiliaries of the Democratic Party": the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and America Coming Together.

The groups paid people to register voters. Some registrations were filled out for dead people, some contained fake addresses, and others named fiction characters such as Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins.

Jess Goode, spokesman for ACT in Ohio, has denied wrongdoing by his group. He said the Republican Party is scared of the number of new Democratic voters headed to the polls in two weeks.

An estimated 7.9 million people have registered in Ohio, up from 7.1 million at the beginning of the year.

Williams is currently investigating fraud by someone working for ACORN who he said submitted voter registrations for about 35 people who don't exist.

Newly registered voters in Hamilton County are mailed a card telling them where to vote and what political districts they live in. But thousands of those cards were returned because the people, or the addresses listed on voter registration forms, couldn't be found.

"There is quite a number," Williams said, noting that not every returned card is a suspected case of fraud. "People do actually move.''

State GOP records, confirmed by Williams, show that through Oct. 4, Hamilton County mailed 63,403 cards to new registrants, and 4,152 were returned - a rate of 6.6 percent.

The number was third-highest in the state behind Cuyahoga County's 14,461 and Franklin's 6,917, according to GOP records. In Butler County, 255 cards mailed to new voters were returned, while 24 were returned in Warren County, according to GOP records. Clermont County numbers were not available.

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