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GOP Loses Challenge to Early Ohio Voting

Ohio voters went to the polls yesterday for the first day of early voting, exercising a right in Ohio that the state’s Republicans had fought hard to defeat.

Because of an overlap between the beginning of absentee voting 35 days before Election Day, which started yesterday, and the Oct. 6 end of voter registration, Ohio allows one week of same-day voting and registration.

Republicans had fought hard against that rule, designed to make voting easier, by bringing several lawsuits, charging that early votes and same-day registration lend themselves to attempts at voter fraud. These are just some of several GOP lawsuits to end related attempts to challenge Democratic votes in key swing states.

In general, Republican lawsuits around the country have been urging states to restrict voting rights — claiming the threat of massive voter fraud.

Democrats respond that Republicans are just trying to prevent voting by the poor, young, elderly and minorities. All these demographics are more likely to vote Democrat, and are the target of major Democratic Party get-out-the-vote efforts.

In Ohio yesterday, both state and federal courts upheld Ohio’s right to allow early voting and same-day registration. It was a big victory for Ohio’s Democratic secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner.

Still, the federal court yesterday ruled that counties must allow party poll observers during early voting, leaving Republicans a window of opportunity to suppress the Democratic vote.

Last night, Republicans assured their ranks that they would not let early voting proceed without a fight — or at least, a large number of voter challenges.

“This is a win for Jennifer Brunner’s partisan efforts to aide the Democrat turnout strategy,” said Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett. “Fortunately, the federal court overturned her attempts to shut out observers and conduct the absentee voting process without public scrutiny. We will continue to fight the secretary of state’s partisan maneuvering in this election, and we will win in spite of it.”

Meanwhile, the Ohio GOP Web site yesterday was instructing Republican voters to take advantage of the secretary of state’s early voting and same-day registration rules — noting this was an important opportunity for Republicans to express support for the party by voting early for Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

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