Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bush-Cheney campaign Chairman Marc Racicot yesterday called on Sen. John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee to demand that tax-exempt groups that support the Democratic presidential candidate be told to stop voter-registration fraud and frivolous lawsuits.

Mr. Racicot also called on the Democrats to put an end to efforts to intimidate and confuse voters.

“We’ve worked towards an unprecedented registration of new voters, and that obviously includes Democrats, Republicans and independents,” he said.

“And we have tried to be open and constantly transparent in our efforts to address issues that could in any way present any obstacle to Americans voting in this presidential election.”

But, Mr. Racicot said, there are “some very sincere concerns” about the activities and efforts of Democrats and various 527 tax-exempt organizations that have raised millions of dollars and recruited thousands of volunteers and paid workers to defeat President Bush on Nov. 2 — reflecting what the chairman called a “certain cynicism” to confuse and confound election administrators nationwide.

Mr. Racicot said continuing efforts of voter intimidation and fraud by Democrats would “ultimately paralyze the effective ability of Americans to be able to vote in the next election.”

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe has accused Republicans of engaging in “systematic efforts” to disenfranchise voters, imposing unlawful identification requirements on voters, throwing eligible voters off the rolls, and depriving voters of their right to vote a provisional ballot.

“Regardless of party or candidate, it is the civic and moral duty of both parties to encourage complete and full participation in the democratic process,” he said in a recent letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.

“In the name of democracy, it is essential that you and the Republican National Committee proactively come forward to address this issue … You can either let this burgeoning Republican scandal fester, or you can come clean with the American people.”

Mr. Racicot’s comments came as incidents of voter intimidation and registration fraud echoed across the country, including in Florida, where authorities are examining 10,000 voter-registration forms that election officials say might have been improperly submitted; in Colorado, where 200 questionable applications are under review, some with suspected forged signatures and others containing phony addresses; and in Minnesota, where a voter-registration worker was stopped by police after he ran a red light and officers found 300 voter registration cards, some of them months old, in his trunk.

In Ohio, Mr. Gillespie denounced “some of the most alarming” reports of voter fraud in the country, including the attempted registration of a dead man and the arrest of another man accused of falsifying 130 registration cards with names such as Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins in exchange for crack cocaine.

John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Ohio, said his office was concerned that cards sent to newly registered voters in the county directing them to their nearest polling place were returned because the people or the addresses could not be found.

Mr. Williams said that although the number was large, it did not mean every one of them represented a fraudulent voter registration, although an inquiry is under way. Officials have focused on 35 questionable registrations submitted by a worker for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, he said.

An ACORN official said yesterday that the organization hired 4,000 to 5,000 volunteers in a voter-registration drive that netted 1.1 million applications and that from “time to time, some of the workers did not live up to quality-control standards.” But, the official said, ACORN is cooperating with authorities in the probe.

Mr. Racicot noted that Democrats or Democrat-associated organizations have filed at least 27 lawsuits in nine states focusing on accusations of voter intimidation, registration fraud and challenges to the early voting process. He said many of the suits were aimed at “changing the rules in the middle of the stream,” including those that could “imperil the ability of our military personnel around the world to be able to vote.”

He said he was calling on the Kerry campaign and the DNC as part of a “call to action” to participate in a joint effort to send teams to areas of the country where voter challenges arise “to make sure that there were not obstacles placed in the way of people that want to be part of this presidential election.”

Democrats have sued in several battleground states over ballot and voting restrictions. Lawsuits also have been filed by several independent groups supporting Mr. Kerry.

But Mr. Racicot said Democrats and the 527 groups are losing their court challenges and are now “shopping, looking for other courts, bringing these pieces of litigation — these lawsuits — in an effort to try to paralyze the system.”

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