- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A five-month study conducted by the Democratic National Committee charged yesterday that Ohio voters, particularly blacks, encountered numerous obstacles last year that suppressed electoral participation in a state President Bush carried by a margin of 136,000 votes.

The DNC study, conducted and written by committee officials and former advisers to Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, focused only on Ohio, whose 20 electoral votes were pivotal to the outcome of the 2004 election.

Donna Brazile, the veteran Democratic voter-turnout strategist who chaired the study, said that “numerous irregularities characterized the Ohio election: we find evidence of voter confusion, voter suppression, and negligence and incompetence of election officials.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said the report, “Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio,” was “pure political fiction,” pointing to widespread reports throughout Ohio, where Democratic campaign activists submitted thousands of bogus voter-registration cards in an attempt to tip the state into the Democratic column.

The report contends that “more than one-quarter of all voters in Ohio reported some kind of problem on Election Day, including long lines, problems with registration status and polling locations, absentee ballots and provisional ballots and unlawful identification requirements at the polls.”

It also charges that black voters “had a starkly different Election Day experience than white voters.”

“African Americans reported waiting an average of 52 minutes in line to vote while white voters reported waiting an average of 18 minutes. African Americans were also more likely to have their registration status challenged,” Miss Brazile said.

The report does not explain why, in light of the obstacles black voters faced, that Mr. Bush’s share of the black vote in Ohio was 16 percent, seven percentage points higher than it was in 2000, and significantly higher than the 11 percent average he won nationally among black voters.

Overall voter turnout was up, too, in Ohio, with 66.3 percent of all eligible voters going to the polls to cast their ballots, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.

In a stinging reply to the report, Mr. Mehlman agreed that there were numerous election abuses that took place in Ohio last year, but said they were perpetrated by Democrats or their political allies. In one instance, he said, “Democrat allies attempted to disenfranchise Ohio voters by submitting registration cards for Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Michael Jordan.”

In March, a group of Ohio election law attorneys conducted a review of the state’s election for the House Committee on Administration. It found, among other things, that “thousands of false and fraudulent voter-registration cards had been discovered and became the subject of numerous investigations by boards of elections, actions by local law enforcement and many media reports.”

“Overwhelmingly,” this report said, “these problems were reportedly traced primarily” to four Democratic political allies who supported Mr. Kerry: ACORN, America Coming Together, the AFL-CIO and the NAACP National Voter Fund.

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