Judge Reversed: Ohio Challenges Restored

Fraud File: Ohio Challenges Continue (Fox News)

The Ohio Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling late Monday that gives a partial victory to Republican poll watchers who earlier had been denied by two federal judges. The court ruled that state law allows one challenger per political party at each precinct. Republicans had registered its challengers at the polls by precinct, but Democrats had registered one challenger at each polling place. In Ohio’s most crowded areas, like Cleveland, more than one precinct can be found in each polling place, meaning Republicans could have a numerical advantage in the number of challengers present. On top of that, the 6th District Court of Appeals reversed two rulings by federal judges that would have prevented the parties from posting challengers at polling places. Earlier in the day, the judges ruled that poll workers, not outsiders, should determine voter eligibility.

An order by U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott (search) of Cincinnati found that the application of Ohio’s statute allowing challengers at polling places was unconstitutional. In a similar case, U.S. District Judge John Adams (search) of Akron said poll workers are the ones to determine if voters are eligible.

Excellent news, although I’m unclear as to how the Ohio Supreme Court could overturn the ruling of a federal judge. Stay tuned.

Update (11/2 0837): G.O.P. in Ohio Can Challenge Voters at Polls [RSS] (NYT)

In a day of see-sawing court rulings, a Federal appeals court ruled early Tuesday morning that the Republican Party could place thousands of people inside polling places to challenge the eligibility of voters, a blow to Democrats who argued those challengers will intimidate minority voters. The ruling, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, reversed two lower courts that had blocked the challenges just a day before. It also came as squadrons of lawyers from both parties in Ohio and other swing states from Pennsylvania to Florida to New Mexico were preparing for Election Day skirmishes that will include using arcane laws that allow challenges at the polls.

I heard on NPR that the U.S. Supreme Court, via Justice Stevens, has denied cert–meaning this will be the final ruling before the election.

Update – Confirmation: Justice Ends Effort to Stop G.O.P. Challenges in Ohio

Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court refused today to set aside an early-morning Ohio appeals court ruling that allowed Republicans to send challengers to polling places, effectively ending Democrats’ efforts to block what they had cast as an effort to intimidate minority voters in this key battleground state. Justice Stevens acted on an emergency request shortly before polls opened in Ohio and elsewhere across the nation. He said practical considerations, like the difficulty of reviewing all the relevant filings in two lower federal courts that had blocked Republicans from placing thousands of people inside polling places, and the limited amount of time available, weighed against granting the requested relief and reinstating the two orders. “The hour is late and time is short,” Justice Stevens said in declining to refer the matter to the full Supreme Court.

While Stevens was a Republican (by President Ford) appointee, he is one of the most liberal justices on the Court and hardly a GOP shill.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Law and the Courts, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. denise says:

    I don’t the Ohio Supremes overruled the federal district court, James.

    It looks like the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the federal judges — on the constitutionality of having challengers in the polling places.

    The Ohio S. Ct. made a ruling on an issue of state statutory construction — i.e., whether more than one challenger can be stationed at a polling place that serves more than one precinct.

  2. ken says:

    And just why, in your opinion, is voter intimidation and suppression of votes ‘excellent news”.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    < >

    And just why, in your opinion, is asking people for proper indentification or proof that you can vote considered voter intimidation? You need proper i.d. and proof of who you are just to cash a check and I consider VOTING more important than check cashing… 😉

  4. Elizabeth says:

    my post got cut off…

    should have started with “And just why…”

  5. Pile On® says:

    Try not to get too intimidated tomorrow Ken, I know it can get really scary when someone asks you your name, especially if you passed a police car on the way to the polling place. The idea of someone asking to look at your drivers license is enough to send one home to curl up in the fetal position in your happy place.

  6. Anjin-San says:

    Perhaps the Bush campaign will provide some of its fenced-in “free speech zones” where the disenfranchised can gather after they are denied the right to vote.

    “Never forget, everything hitler did in Germany was legal”

    Martin Luther King Jr.

  7. Anjin-San says:

    RE: Free-Speech zones

    I refer any doubters about Bush’s war on the constitution to this excellent article in The American Conservative:


  8. Pile On® says:

    Are you referring the the “free speech zones” that the DNC was so kind to provide during the Democrat convention?

  9. Anjin-San says:


    follow the link. Then be so kind as to provide me with proof that democrats are guilty of the same offense against our freedoms. If you can do that I will happily condemn them for it.

    I notice you are following a typical Bushite bait & switch pattern. When someone trys to hold Bush accountable for his actions, why make an accusation (often baseless) against a democrat.

    Its almost laughable. When I brought up the subject of Bush’s “free-speech zones” with my next door neighbor today, he started going of on Hillary Clinton. Now I don’t care for hillary, but what the hell does she have to do with bush supressing free speech?

    Bush/Cheney: The buck stops anywhere but here…

  10. libs4lunch says:

    Uh, Anjin-San (WTFO), is it just possible that the Secret Service is doing its job to keep fanatic Democrats at bay? You know, the ones who hate guns and shoot up Republican headquarters??

    Now, loosen up that tinfoil, your head is overheating.

  11. Abakan says:

    Typical, someone points out that a photo id and proof of residency is a reasonable requirement to vote and they are immediately compared to Nazi’s.

    This is why Bush will be elected on Nov. 2. Afterwards, we will work on real voter reform.
    I hope that is how it turns out.

    A lifelong Democrat votinfg for Bush.

  12. Anjin-San says:

    Libs for lunch.

    The article I linked to and you apparently are too lazy to read is from THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE. Not exactly a hotbed of Kerry supporters.

    I would appreciate proof of democrats “shooting up” gop headquarters. Something tells me none is forthcoming.

    Pretty typical. You can’t refute an argument so you resort to things like “tinfoil” that would embarras a reasonably bright 8th grader in debate club.

  13. Anjin-San says:


    Actually I was equating fenced in “free speech zones” with the actions of Nazis.

    If necessary I can provide postings in comic book format so that you can keep up


  14. dw says:

    Someone is going to die tomorrow. And it will be a moment of reckoning for American politics.

    I don’t know where, and I don’t know who, but I just feel that the reckoning is at hand, and the parties will blame each other for what happens, and it will be our darkest hour as a representative democracy.

    Just please let this nightmare be over with tomorrow night.

  15. Anjin-San says:

    Hmmm… no proof of dem “free speech zones” no proof of gop headquarters getting “shot up”.

    Why am I not suprised?

  16. bains says:

    You have evidence of actual voter intimidation and suppression Ken? Or perhaps you did recieve the DNC memo…

  17. Anjin-San says:

    From Ohvotesupression.com

    Hamilton County GOP Challengers Include Mostly Suburbanites

    Jene Galvin of Make Ohio Blue has seen and reviewed a list of 270 Republican Challengers for Hamilton County Ohio (Cincinnati Area) and it indicates that most challengers are from suburban areas and are not assigned to monitor suburban precincts. Instead they are hitting the City of Cincinnati itself and mainly minority neighborhoods. From Jene:
    So when I poured over the list of paid Republican challengers, where they live and where to date they’ve been assigned to challenge voters tomorrow at polling places, one conclusion jumped off the pages: Largely, the Republican Party is paying white suburbanites to go into voting facilities of largely poor black neighborhoods.

    Their obvious assumption? That working class and poor black people need to be watched when they vote, usually by more affluent white people, that African Americans are often crooked.

    For example, while large numbers of the paid Republican challengers live in townships outside Cincinnati, in cities as far away as Fairfield and West Chester, no challenger is being sent to all-white suburbs.
    Fairfield and West Chester are not even in Hamilton County. Conflict and tension will be high if the Federal Rulings are overturned. At this hour there is no news on the GOP appeal. Polls without challengers should mean a smoother election.

    >can anyone out here show were challengers are being sent to well-to-do white areas?

  18. Attila Girl says:

    Hey, Anjin-San: there’d be no reason to discourage black voters from voting, since they are supporting the GOP in ever-increasing numbers, and we want to encourage them in their robust (and increasingly intelligent) participation in democracy.

    And, for crying out loud: GOP headquarters have been invaded, burglarized, and vandalized for weeks and weeks–including numerous incidents of shooting the windows out (sometimes with real guns, sometimes with BB guns or whatever). Don’t you read the news? Don’t you have Google? Go get informed.

    Seriously, folks–the heartbreaking thing about all this is that the two parties cannot cooperate, get together long enough to form bipartisan little bands and poll-monitor together. In a less insane climate, people would see the big picture and agree that we want neither vote fraud nor intimidation.

  19. Anjin-San:
          You have a right to feel a bit frustrated, since no one responded directly to your request. Till now.

          Google democratic national convention fenced free speech zone and hit ‘I’m feeling lucky,’ and this turns up:


    “(FindLaw) — Last week, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) ended. But the First Amendment issues that were raised there did not. Indeed, they are likely to continue on indefinitely — recurring at the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC), and similar public events raising intense security concerns.

    Protesters at the DNC were confined to a fenced-in area — a wire enclosure topped by razor wire outside Boston’s FleetCenter, where the Convention was held.”[emphasis added]

          I must say, I’m rather surprised you could have failed to notice this, as it was mentioned in lots of stories about the Democratic convention.  Which tells us all something about selective memory.

  20. Pile On® says:

    Mr. Pilot, there are four counties in Ohio where there are more registered voters than there are citizens of voting age. There is more than one way to be disenfranchised, one is to have your vote cancelled out by a fraudulent vote. Should we, if we care about democracy ignore that.

    You have been provided the truth about the free speech zones. You do have the right to free speech, and you have the right to protest, but you don’t have the right to disrupt an event and endanger the lives of people like would have happened at the DNC or RNC this summer.

    If you are worried about your civil liberties I suggest you don’t commit acts of terrorism. Or fund, join or aid any terrorist organizations. There have been no abuses of the patriot act, if you can provide one I would like to see it.

  21. ken says:

    I see James never had the guts to answer my question.

    But some repuglicans here in turn asked me what was wrong with asking for voter IDs at the polls. These people of course are too stupid to know that in Ohio voters are asked for ID before they are given a ballot by the poll workers.

    What the repuglicans thugs hanging over the workers will do is to challenge black voters, who are predominately democratic voters, in order to cause some mahem and a slowdown of voting leading to others not bothering to vote. Since in Ohio you can only challenge voters if you have some legitimate grounds for a challenge all of these challenges will be for the sole purpose of causing harrasment. They have no legitimate grounds to challenge anyone as they will all be strangers to the neighborhoods and no nothing of its residents.

  22. McGehee says:

    I have to conclude that Anjin-san lives in a cave. Besides the Demvention razor-wire “free-speech” bunker, there have been numerous news reports about the shootings at Republican campaign offices in several cities.

    But I suppose since those news reports weren’t in “The American Right-Wing Wacko,” which seems to be his sole source of news, he wouldn’t know about them.

  23. McGehee says:

    Ken, on the other hand, seems to be able to read minds, see things happening when he isn’t present at the event, and foretell the future.

  24. Anjin-San says:


    Thanks for the link. These tatics by political parties should be opposed by all Americans who value freedom. The conventions are just a stage show these days, I did not pay much attention last summer.