Black Students, Voter Eligibility Questioned

Black Students, Voter Eligibility Questioned

With the election 19 days aways controversy over voter fraud, intimidation and suppression have grown rampant. Less than a week ago, students from the historically black Central State University in Wilberforce, Oh. were brewed in their own battle.

Gene Fischer, Green County sheriff requested the personal information of 302 newly registered voters, many of them from CSU and Wilberforce University, also a historically black college. Fischer withdrew his request after mounting pressure from Democrats who said his claims of voter fraud was unfounded and an attempt to intimidate black students and Barack Obama supporters.

“It’s hard to say whether there was any illegality in the sheriff’s request,” says Jennifer Ronsenberg, a fellow at the Brennan Center‘s Democracy Program. “The names of voters are actually public information. The fact that he backed off due to partisan blow back and never articulated legitimate grounds for his suspicions over voter fraud does suggest an improper motive.”

Ohio is a hotly contested swing state in the race for the White House. According to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Ut., nearly 200,000 newly registered voters are being challenged. About one in every three new registrants will end up on court-ordered lists being sent to county election boards because they have some discrepancy in their records, an elections spokesman said Wednesday.

Kevin Kidder, spokesperson for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said voter information did not match motor-vehicle or Social Security records. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati sided with the Ohio Republican Party on Tuesday and ordered Brunner to set up a system that provides those names to county elections boards. The GOP contends the information will help prevent fraud.

Greene County officials had suggested that Fischer could renew his request in light of the federal appeals court decisions.

Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at