According to the Associated Press, a federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered Ohio’s top elections official to set up a system by Friday to verify the eligibility of new voters and make the information available to the state’s 88 county election boards.
A full panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must use other government records to check thousands of new voters for registration fraud. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit had disagreed last week, but the full court’s ruling overturns that decision.
In the lower court decision, U.S. District Judge George C. Smith in Columbus ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must perform the verification required by the Help America Vote Act. That includes matching new registrants’ information against information in databases maintained by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration. Brunner, a Democrat, complained that U.S. District Judge George C. Smith’s ruling last week "threatens to throw Ohio’s entire statewide [voter] database … into chaos."
In his decision, Judge Smith recognized the gravity of his decision and how it might affect the upcoming presidential election:
"Plaintiffs assert, and the court agrees, that it is hard to imagine a public interest more compelling than safeguarding the legitimacy of the election of the president of the United States," Smith wrote in his ruling.
In his 16-page ruling, Smith cited the "millions of qualified electors across the state of Ohio whose confidence in the electoral process will be undermined if new voter registrations are not verified in accordance with (federal law), and if unqualified individuals are permitted to cast votes. This would demean the voting process and unlawfully dilute the votes of qualified voters."
Judge Smith specifically cited questionable activity of one group that registered thousands of new Ohio voters: the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, an ACORN representative is on a Brunner advisory committee, while Republicans say Barack Hussein Obama has "strong ties" to ACORN, serving in the past as an attorney and "leadership trainer" for the group.