Ongoing efforts to limit the number of voters in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Nevada — all predicated on the fear of voter fraud and all launched by Republicans — suffered major setbacks this week.
The decisions, either by judges or secretaries of state, bring to a close several of the legal battles detailed in the latest compendium of swing-state disputes Miller-McCune.com reported earlier this week, and focus on the right to vote trumping the fear of fraud.
In general, Republicans in at least 10 swing states have cited problems with new registrations — including some clearly spurious applications submitted across the nation — creating the possibility of widespread voter fraud. Democrats have generally responded in two ways, calling the GOP efforts an attempt to disenfranchise a wave of newly signed-up (and generally pro-Barack Obama) voters and noting that it's difficult for a phony registration by say "Mickey Mouse" to end up as a cast ballot.
In Ohio, Republicans on Thursday withdrew a case before the Ohio Supreme Court that would've jeopardized the ability of more than 200,000 registrants to vote because of typos and other minor discrepancies on their voter registration records. Republicans lost a similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court last week.
At the same time, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a directive saying that election officials may not challenge a voter on Election Day "based solely on the fact that the person offering to vote has been the subject of a data discrepancy between computer records maintained by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles" (including Social Security Administration data) and that person's voter registration record. In September, Brunner issued another directive saying voters can't be challenged based solely on returned mail.
In Indiana, on Wednesday a judge threw out a lawsuit by Republicans aimed at shutting down three early voting sites in Lake County (part of the Chicago metro area) Democratic strongholds. On Thursday, Lake County Republicans appealed their case to the Indiana Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the early voting sites are staying.
In Wisconsin, a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who wanted the state to use a computer database known to be inaccurate as a way to verify voters' eligibility. The judge said the case should be decided by the state's Government Accountability Board, which already ruled against Van Hollen's request. When the six-member board ran their own registration records through the computer, it threw out four of them.
Van Hollen says he will appeal the case.
Finally, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller ruled on Thursday that voters should be allowed to correct mistakes or incomplete information on their voter registration records at the polls during early voting. The Nevada Republican Party had wanted those voters to cast provisional ballots.