During the 2004 presidential election, in hotly contested Ohio, Republicans issued hundreds of flawed voter challenges that ultimately failed for exactly the same reason that King County Republican Lori Sotelo’s challenges failed this year — because the Republicans in Ohio couldn’t provide the addresses at which the challenged voters actually lived, even though they’d signed forms under oath claiming they knew just that information. Clearly, the type of uninformed mass challenging that we saw in King County this year from Sotelo is not a new Republican tactic.
Listen to this NPR story from 2004. The audio from the challenge hearing in Ohio in 2004 might as well be audio from the challenge hearings I went to here in Seattle last month. Here’s a transcript of the elections board members at the Ohio challenge hearing raising the possibility that one Ms. Miller, a Republican challenger, could be indicted because of false statements on the challenge form she filled out:
MR. PRY (Summit County Board of Elections): Now, you’ve indicated that you signed this based on some personal knowledge.
MR. HUTCHINSON (Summit County Board of Elections): No.
MR. ARSHINKOFF (Summit County Board of Elections): Reason to believe. It says, “I have reason to believe.” It says it on the form.
MR. JONES (Summit County Board of Elections): It says, “I hereby declare under penalty of election falsification, that the statements above are true as I verily believe.”
MR. ARSHINKOFF: It says here, “I have reason to believe.”
MR. HUTCHINSON: It says what it says.
MR. ARSHINKOFF: You want her indicted, get her indicted.
MR. PRY: That may be where it goes next.
MR. HUTCHINSON: Yeah, give it a try.
MR. MORRISON (Republican lawyer): I’m going to enter an objection.
MR. JONES: Can we have your name?
MR. MORRISON: Yes. Jack Morrison. I’ve just been informed by Mr. Pry that an indictment may flow out of this, and therefore I’m instructing Ms. Miller to exercise her privilege against self-incrimination. She will not answer any further questions.
In Ohio, 976 Republican challenges were thrown out in Summit County alone. But, just like in King County, the inconveniencing of legitimate voters had already been accomplished by the time the Republican challenges were rejected.
“This is an outrage,” on challenged voter said. “I feel as if I am being called a liar for claiming to live at my address.” Sound familiar?