Glitch causes problems with voter registrations

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

No chads are hanging yet but a computer glitch has caused some voter registrations in Lawrence County and across the state to be contested.

Not nearly as many as originally thought though.

Two local men challenged the legitimacy of 147 new voters in Lawrence County, just a few days after the Ohio Republican Party announced that it would contest more than 35,000 registrants statewide.

Email newsletter signup

The state GOP filed the challenges Friday in 65 of Ohio's 88 counties, saying mail sent to the newly registered voters was returned as undeliverable. The Republicans withdrew thousands of those after it was learned that it was caused by a computer glitch that hit home here as well.

Board of Elections official Mary Wipert said that individuals who registered at the end of June or beginning of July were incorrectly sent a pending cancellation notice because of a new computer program error that was not detected for several weeks.

On Tuesday, Wipert said that many of the names have been eliminated from question and that she expected only approximately a dozen could be contested. The other voters will be sent letters telling them that their voter registration is in fact valid.

Tyler Walters was one of those contesting the registrations. He emphasized that he had no idea what party the voters were registered as but has dropped the issue once he learned that it was a computer problem.

"This was just to make sure the people registered to vote are registered and eligible to vote in the precinct in which they are registered," Walters said. "Now that they are, that is great. We just wanted to confirm their eligibility."

Walters said he did not know any names on the list, was not in any way encouraged to take this action by the state Republican party.

Mark McCown, secretary/treasurer for the Lawrence County Democratic Party, was still not convinced that the situation was handled properly.

"We are disappointed and disgusted at the Ohio Republican Party for taking these actions to disenfranchise the registrants of Lawrence County," he said. "These objections have already been dismissed in other counties in Ohio and we are confident that the same should be done in Lawrence County."

McCown added that all the filings across the state were identical and that he wondered if the individual cases were examined or if those contesting just signed their names.

Walters was adamant that there was no pressure from the Ohio GOP and that it was just a preventative measure in an effort to avoid voter fraud.