News & Politics

Ohio to Allow Minor Parties to Observe Vote Count in November

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's decision will help to monitor voting and the vote count in the battleground state's swing counties.
Minor political parties will have the same rights as Democrats and Republicans to be polling place observers and to monitor the vote count at Ohio's 88 county Boards of Election on November 4th, under a new policy announced Wednesday by Ohio's Secretary of State, Democrat Jennifer Brunner.

"Yes, that is true," said Kevin Kidder, media relations coordinator for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. "Minor parties have been granted the same rights as major parties."

The new policy, which was part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the Green Party over access to the 2008 ballot for its presidential candidate, former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney, will enable the Ohio Green Party to station election protection observers at precincts and at county tabulation centers, said the party's Ohio attorney, Robert Fitrakis of Columbus.

"Minor parties will now have the right of major parties to allow us to be observers in every polling place, inside boards of elections, inside counting rooms," Fitrakis said. "I have been negotiating this to settle a suit to put McKinney on the ballot … I argued we should have all the rights of the (major parties in the) existing (Ohio) statute until the Legislature writes a new statute."

Fitrakis said election protection activists who helped to document 2004's election problems are still politically active and were willing to help the Green Party to observe voting and vote tabulation on Nov. 4 -- particularly in counties where the official 2004 results contained problematic vote totals, such as more than 10,000 people voting to re-elect the president and voting in favor of gay marriage in the state's Bible Belt. Those and other official but politically implausible vote counts have been cited by election integrity activists who question the president's 2004 margin of victory in the state.

In 2004, the Green and Libertarian Parties paid for a recount of Ohio's presidential election, claiming there was voter suppression in the state's cities and fraudulent vote counts in rural areas, most notably in three southeastern counties near Cincinnati. In one of those counties, Warren County, local officials declared a "homeland security" emergency and banned the public and media from observing vote counts. A sizeable portion of George W. Bush's victory margin came from these counties.
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