Nov. 3, 2004

License to steal ?

Late Ruling Allows GOP to Challenge Ohio Voters By Henry Weinstein [Excerpts] CINCINNATI-Ruling early this morning, a divided federal court of appeals handed Republicans a potentially significant election-day legal victory in this fiercely contested state, clearing the way for the party to challenge thousands of newly registered voters. On Monday, two federal district judges, one a Democratic appointee and one a Republican, had barred Republicans from challenging voters, saying that the planned challenges could cause chaos at the polls that would deny people the right to vote. The 2-1 appeals court majority disagreed. "Longer lines may, of course, result from delays and confusion when one side in a political controversy employs" challenges "more vigorously than in previous elections," Judge John M. Rogers wrote for the court. But "such a possibility does not amount to the severe burden upon the right to vote" that would justify a court order, he said. Rogers, who was appointed by President Bush in 2002, was joined by Senior Judge James L. Ryan, who was appointed by President Reagan in 1985. Appeals Court Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., a 1995 appointee of President Clinton, dissented. Under the Republican plan, he wrote, "partisan challengers for the first time since the civil rights era seek to target precincts that have a majority African American population and without any legal standards or restrictions, challenge the voter qualifications of people as they stand waiting to exercise their fundamental right to vote." continued...

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