A federal court ruled tonight that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner violated federal election laws by not taking adequate steps to validate the identity of newly registered voters.
The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith called the identification breakdown "a serious problem" and ordered Brunner to immediately comply with federal requirements to match voter registration data with the information in the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration databases. The court accused Brunner of failing to provide county election administrators with "an effective way to access and review mismatches." She immediately appealed the ruling.
For about two weeks, I'd been trying to verify that Brunner's office was actually comparing the new voter registrations to an outside source, either the BMV or the SS databases. My phone calls to the Secretary of State's office this week have not been returned.
Both Ohio law and the Help America Vote Act require that new voter registrations be compared to an outside, independent database in order to verify the identity of the voter. I'd been told that the connection between the Secretary of State's database and those outside agencies was either not operational or had been removed.
In light of ACORN's admission to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections that the group engages in fraudulent voter registration activity, the independent verification of identities by the SOS office is critical to ensuring a fair and honest election in Ohio.
Ohio ACORN officials "blamed the elections board for not scrutinizing ACORN's suspicious cards," claiming the group "can't be expected to catch everything."
ACORN is facing similar inquires in other Ohio counties as well as 10 other states. Members of the group's "voter-mobilization arm," Project Vote, regularly advise Brunner on election strategy, even recently issuing a news release that claims credit for Brunner's directive restricting challenges to suspected fraudulent voter registrations. Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama also has strong ties to ACORN, working previously as an attorney and "leadership trainer" for the group.
The Columbus Dispatch has their story on line, including quotes from the judge.