Nov. 17, 2004 – Public hearings in Ohio, initiated by a coalition of voter advocacy groups, concluded yesterday with the promise of lawsuits over voter disenfranchisement and a recount to be filed in Ohio.
Nearly 200 people gave sworn testimony during the two-day hearings, held Saturday at the New Faith Baptist Church in East Columbus and Monday at the Columbus courthouse.
Among the complaints listed by people who voted or tried to vote were snaking Election Day lines and widespread confusion over new precinct borders.
Groups like People for the American Way, Common Cause Ohio, Citizens Alliance for a Fair Election (CASE Ohio) and the League of Pissed-Off Voters, all co-organizers of the event, contend that state election practices systemically suppressed voters in lower-income precincts and violated constitutional laws guaranteeing all US citizens equal right to vote.
While the voter advocacy organizations involved in the hearings plan to pursue separate lawsuits, a shared interest in a reformation of the electoral process that goes beyond the 2004 election unites them. While they concede that lawsuits most likely will not overturn the most recent election results, they want to make sure that every voter is heard at the polls next time.
In an interview with The NewStandard, Franklin County Board of Election Director Matthew Damschroder said he knew of the potential for a troubled Election Day for some time. "We've been warning people about the changed precincts and telling people since June to expect long lines on Election Day," Damschroder said. While Damschroder did not attend the hearings, he expressed interest in reviewing transcripts.
Editorâ€™s Note: NewStandard reporter Ariella Cohen attended both days of hearings in Columbus Ohio and is compiling a longer, more detailed article on the testimony provided as well as follow up actions intended by the various groups involved. We expect to publish that article within the next few days.