Friday, October 29, 2004

Voter Suppression

It's really very simple: Republican don't want you to vote. Democrats do. That fact should tell you everything you need to know.

When Catherine Herold received mail from the Ohio Republican Party earlier this year, she refused it.

The longtime Barberton Democrat wanted no part of the mailing and figured that by refusing it, the GOP would have to pay the return postage.

What she didn't count on was the returned mail being used to challenge the validity of her voter registration.

Herold,who is assistant to the senior vice president and provost at the University of Akron,was one of 976 Summit County voters whose registrations were challenged last week by local Republicans on behalf of the state party.

She went to the Board of Elections on Thursday morning to defend her right to vote and found herself among an angry mob -- people who had to take time off work to defend their right to vote.

After hearing some of the protests, the board voted unanimously to dismiss all 976 challenges.

"I'm 62 years old, I've been voting for 40 years.... I think it's appalling. It's scare tactics," Herold said after her hearing.

Herold was angry when she was notified that her right to vote was being challenged.

``I felt that my voracity was being challenged, that my honor was being challenged. They basically were saying that I lied about where I lived. I resented that.''

The challengers, all older longtime Republicans -- Barbara Miller, Howard Calhoun, Madge Doerler and Louis Wray -- were subpoenaed by the elections board and were present at the hearings. Akron attorney Jack Morrison, a Republican, volunteered to represent the four.

Democratic board member Russ Pry suggested that the four could be subject to criminal prosecution for essentially making false claims on the challenge forms. The form states that making a false claim is subject to prosecution as a fifth-degree felony.

Wray filed a challenge against 25-year-old Barbara Jean DeWilde of Stow, but testified that he had no personal knowledge that DeWilde didn't live at her Stow address, other than information he received from Summit County Republican Party headquarters.

DeWilde called the challenge ``a mockery of America's free election process.''

An immigrant from Jamaica, Horam, 55, said he came to the United States because ``it is the greatest democracy on the face of the earth.''

``I am disappointed in the Republican Party,'' Horam said as he left the hearing room.

``I'm really disappointed that they are trampling on people's rights and democracy and depriving them of their right to vote.''

The angry voters had the Republicans on the defensive.

``Why'd you do it?'' one challenged voter shouted out at Calhoun. ``Who the hell are you?'' the man asked.

"`What the hell do you care?" replied Calhoun, an attorney.
The time for softball is over: this is a felony, and they should demand that the authorities press charges and throw these Republicans who are trying to deprive American Citizens of their right to vote into jail where they belong.

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