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Monday, Sep 27, 2004, 2:44 pm

Pulling out the Stops

By Jessica Clark
As In These Times reported last month, several Republican Secretaries of State are working hard to block new, young or minority voters from the polls. These efforts seem to have grown more fevered as Democratic get-out-the vote drives rack up new registrants.

Take Ohio, where Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is trying to enforce an outdated law requiring that voter registration applications be submitted on 80 lb. stock. Thousands of already-submitted registrations could be delayed until after the election as a result, according to a post on Daily Kos.

In at least one county, board of elections officials are ignoring Blackwell's request to send out new applications to those voters who submitted registrations on sub-par bond. "We don't have a micrometer at each desk to check the weight of the paper," said Michael Vu, director of the Cuyahoga County election Board.

The Ohio law, which was meant to ensure that voters??? signatures would hold up over time for verification purposes, has been rendered moot by the fact that the applications are now scanned for preservation. A more relevant law in this instance might be
Section 1971 of the U.S. Code
, which deals with voting rights:

No person acting under color of law shall??.deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.

Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).

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