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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
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High-Court Justices Rule Against Ohio Republicans

WASHINGTON (CN) - In a victory for Ohio election officials, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated an order directing Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to set up a system of verifying voter eligibility by today, once again reversing the tide in a heavily contested dispute over new voter registration.

The justices concluded that Ohio Republicans "are not sufficiently likely to prevail" in their quest to uphold the order.

Brunner, a Democrat, appealed an Oct. 14 ruling by the 6th Circuit that overturned a three-judge panel's decision to stay the district court's temporary restraining order forcing Brunner to comply with the state elections manual.

The Ohio Republican Party had requested the order to stop Brunner from "turning off" Section 303 of the elections manual, which outlined the process for verifying voter registration. (See previous coverage.)

Brunner took the case to the Supreme Court, asking the high court to vacate the 6th Circuit ruling.

Justice John Paul Stevens, the circuit justice for the 6th Circuit, referred the issue to the full court. The justices concluded that Ohio Republicans "are not sufficiently likely to prevail on the question of whether Congress has authorized the district court to enforce Section 303 in an action brought by a private litigant to justify the issuance of a (temporary restraining order)."

The court expressed no opinion on the question of whether Brunner had properly implemented the Help Americans Vote Act.

Republicans accused her of failing to notify county election boards when voter information didn't match the data collected by the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern cited "Joe the plumber" as an example of the alleged Republican effort to suppress voter turnout, the Dayton Daily News reported. Republican presidential candidate John McCain referred to "Joe" 21 times in Tuesday's debate as an example of a potential small business owner who would face higher taxes under Democratic candidate Barack Obama's tax plan.

But it turns out Toledo's "Joe the plumber," whose full name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, not only owes nearly $1,200 in state income taxes, but also is registered to vote under the name Samuel Joseph Worzelbacher - with an "o" instead of a "u."

Redfern said at a press conference that the spelling discrepancy could disenfranchise Wurzelbacher, who voted in this year's primary as a Republican. However, the disputed restraining order primarily affects mismatched voters who registered since Jan. 1.

Deputy Ohio Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine told the Dayton Daily News that all disputed voters would receive at least a provisional ballot.

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