Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seeing the Light

PICW Bruner and Bill Mason are showing the right answers to the possibility of prosecuting those individuals who switched parties on March 4.

About 17,100 Republicans and 3,000 Democrats in Cuyahoga County switched parties in the March 4 primary, the county Board of Elections found during an investigation of whether voters lied when they signed affidavits pledging allegiance to their new party.

But Ohio's elections chief warned Tuesday against prosecuting any of these 20,119 crossover voters because doing so could be a violation of free-speech rights.

"I would be very hesitant to move forward in a criminal investigation," Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said before giving a speech at John Carroll University. "At what point are you going to start getting into censorship?"

The four-member Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, would have to vote on pursuing a criminal investigation.

If the board deadlocks, Brunner, a Democrat, would be called on to break a tie.

The board will discuss at its meeting Monday whether to take action.

The board launched its investigation after The Plain Dealer reported on large numbers of Republicans in Cuyahoga County switching parties to vote in the primary.

The board's review, which was finished this week, was aimed at rooting out any voters who broke the law. At the polls, voters who switch parties must sign an affidavit pledging allegiance to their new party. The forms say, "Whoever commits election falsification is guilty of a felony of the fifth degree."


Board member Sandy McNair, a Democrat, said that such admissions could amount to voter fraud, which is punishable by six to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

McNair said he wants county Prosecutor Bill Mason to review the findings. "There are very, very few people that wrote anything that was troubling, " he said. "It seems to me, we still need to look at that."

But Mason, a Democrat, said in a written statement: "It's going to be very difficult if not impossible to make a case against a voter who has switched parties."

The board can issue subpoenas to voters it suspects switched parties for malicious reasons. Those voters would be asked to testify about their intent.

David Lambert, civil division chief of the prosecutor's office, pointed out that those voters compelled to testify have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals from self-incrimination.

"I think it s a very quixotic effort to convict anybody under this statute," Lambert said.

Brunner said the state legislature may review the law.

Let's go back to the top of the article, where the secretary of State Brunner says the following:

But Ohio's elections chief warned Tuesday against prosecuting any of these 20,119 crossover voters because doing so could be a violation of free-speech rights.

Where have I heard that before, not just five days ago:

It seems to me, that there is a conflict of interest here between PICW Brunner's role as Chief Election official and the laws of the State. The conflict is that she has sworn to uphold the laws and Constitutions of the USA and the State of Ohio, however, if she is to uphold this election law, she could be violating one of the Chief rights every American is given, Freedom of Speech.

How stupid of me, when the Civil Division Chief reminded everyone that we could have the right to remain silent. Can you imagine trying to prosecute all 20,000 cases and have have every defendant take the Fifth on self-incrimination, that certainly would bring everything to a screeching halt. Also, what County Judge would want to have this case assigned to him or her. That would be a fatal issue for any Judge that would come up for re-election.

If the board did try to prosecute and found the individual guilty, that case would surely be placed on a rocket docket for the Court of Appeals. Then Ohio would once again would placed in an unfavorable light on election issues.

Hopefully, sanity will continue to prevail at the Election Board and those who run it.

Stay tuned, I think this issue may still have some legs.

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