August 6, 2006 /

Blue Ohio News – August 5th and 6th Weekend Edition (92 days until Blue Ohio)

The spotlight on Ohio’s new voter registration laws is getting stronger and today made it’s way to the New York Times: For Tony Minor, the pastor of the Community of Faith Assembly in a run-down section of East Cleveland, Ohio’s new voter registration rules have meant spending two extra hours a day collecting half as […]

The spotlight on Ohio’s new voter registration laws is getting stronger and today made it’s way to the New York Times:

For Tony Minor, the pastor of the Community of Faith Assembly in a run-down section of East Cleveland, Ohio’s new voter registration rules have meant spending two extra hours a day collecting half as many registration cards from new voters as he did in past years.

Republicans say the new rules are needed to prevent fraud, but Democrats say they are making it much harder to register the poor.

In the last year, six states have passed such restrictions, and in three states, including Ohio, civic groups have filed lawsuits, arguing that the rules disproportionately affect poor neighborhoods.

But nowhere have the rules been as fiercely debated as here, partly because they are being administered by J. Kenneth Blackwell, the secretary of state and the Republican candidate in one of the most closely watched governor’s races in the country, a contest that will be affected by the voter registration rules. Mr. Blackwell did not write the law, but he has been accused of imposing regulations that are more restrictive than was intended.

Under the law, passed by the Republican-led state legislature in January 2006, paid voter registration workers must personally submit the voter registration cards to the state, rather than allow the organizations overseeing the drives to vet and submit them in bulk.

By requiring paid canvassers to sign and put their addresses on the voter registration cards they collect, and by making them criminally liable for any irregularities on the cards, the rules have made it more difficult to use such workers, who most often work in lower-income and Democratic-leaning neighborhoods, where volunteers are scarce

While there are serious problems with the current voting system, the Republicans look to making new problems up. The actual problems we face is with corruption in the government and highly flawed electronic voting machines. Blackwell made this change, yet he refuses to address his push for Diebold machines in Ohio while being a stockholder of the company. This is how corrupt Ohio voting has become and how endangered our democracy now is.

While on the topic of Ohio voting, an urgent action is needed. Under state law, the ballots from the 2004 presidential election can be destroyed on September 3rd of this year. Blackwell is not hesitating to get rid of this valuable evidence either, as he has already scheduled the destruction for that date. Considering the number of law suits now being filed and the still unanswered questions regarding the elections, we need to save these ballots. The basic principle of our nation depends on this:

As regular readers of The Free Press ( know, a handful of investigative reporters, lawyers, Ph.D. statisticians, and voting rights activists have been following the presidential election evidence trail since the 2004 election. This spring, Free Press reporters and others were able to start looking at ballots in suspect counties for the first time. When we looked and did our own hand counts, we found evidence of ballot box stuffing – with paper ballots and vote-counting computers, and official precinct results that were off by hundreds of votes.

The ballots are the smoking gun to explain what happened in Ohio in 2004. They were not made public until earlier this year, and after September 2, 2006, election officials across Ohio are legally allowed to destroy them. We have been told by election officials in the most problem-plagued counties they can’t wait until Sept. 3rd, because then people asking questions will go home.

Don’t let the ballots be destroyed. Don’t let Republican partisans bury the truth before the history can be told. Destroying the ballots is destroying the evidence at a crime scene. It is our civil right to know that U.S. election are free, fair and honestly counted. Help us preserve this critical public record and raise the bar for accountable elections.

Please make a tax-deductible contribution. We need to look at the ballots. We need to know why more than 75,000 computer punch card ballots, and more than 6,000 paper optical-scan ballots were rejected, never examined and not counted in 2004. We need to know how rural Ohioans really voted in 2004, and how the president’s vote totals were fraudulently inflated.

If you can donate to help get the legal funds together to stop this evidence from being destroyed, then please, PLEASE click this link and help out.

The failing of the minimum wage hike, which was legislation hijacked by the Republicans in order to bolster a tax cut for the upper 1/2% of our population, will play a major impact into this years Senate race. You can also add with that the immigration debate, considering the substantial number of job losses this state has felt over the past several years:

A Republican plan to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 was blocked this week in the Senate by a Democratic filibuster, because it was attached to a controversial tax break for heirs of multimillion-dollar estates. Two Republicans crossed party lines to provide the crucial votes to block it.

One of the two, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, said he supported a minimum wage increase but didn’t think a nation with wartime debt and a pending wave of baby boom retirements could afford to lose the hundreds of billions of dollars that cutting the estate tax would cost. He said he was frustrated with both parties for putting election considerations ahead of long-term policy needs.

“I think a lot of people are watching what’s going on out there,” Voinovich said. “They know what this is all about – politics – for everybody. And the public is saying, who’s paying attention to the stuff we should really be paying attention to?”

On immigration, the standoff stems as much from divisions within the Republican Party as differences between Republicans and Democrats.

The House bill focuses on beefing up border enforcement. The Senate bill would give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. As lawmakers left for their August recess, neither side was budging, and any chance of compromise this year seemed remote.

For Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, who’s seeking re-election in a state devastated by manufacturing job losses, the failure to get a minimum-wage increase was a disappointment, and not getting an immigration bill would only make it worse.

“I like the Senate bill, but I would be happy if we could just move things forward with a bill that starts dealing with the borders,” he said. “We need to do something.”

The sad truth is that Ohio, once a thriving manufacturing state, now has it’s landscape riddled with closed down factories. From the Ohio River all the way up to Lake Erie, shut down factories are common place and that has been devastating to Ohio. That is also a key reason why Ohio, generally one of the reddest of red states, was the deciding factor in 2004 for the Presidential election and came down to handing it to Bush by a handful of ballots.

Finally for this weekend edition of Blue Ohio News, I want to give you this press release by the DNC that shows how little the Ohio Republicans truly represent their constituents

With President Bush set to arrive in Kirtland Hills this evening for a closed press fundraiser with Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, the Democratic National Committee issued the following “By the Numbers” fact sheet on the president’s visit to Ohio.

Blackwell’s Bush Bucks:

Ken Blackwell is expected to raise more than $2 million during tonight’s special interest fundraiser with President Bush. The price of admission at tonight’s private, closed press fundraiser is $1,000 per person or $1,500 per couple for a general reception, with a photo opportunity with the president for those able to pay $10,000. (Dayton Daily News, 7/12/06)

Percentage of Ohioans Rejecting Ohio’s Bush Republican Leadership:

— Just 33 percent of Ohioans approve of President Bush’s job performance, while 65 percent disapprove. (SurveyUSA, 7/18/06)

— Republican Governor Bob Taft ‘s approval rating is stuck at a paltry 17 percent, lower than any other governor in the country, with 78 percent saying they disapprove of his job performance. (SurveyUSA, 7/20/06)

Roll Call of Ohio’s Bush Rubberstamps:

Ohio’s Congressional delegation includes 12 Congressional Republicans and two Senators who have put rubberstamping President Bush’s failed leadership ahead of Ohio’s working families. Do they really need another?

— Representative Steven Chabot (OH-01) has voted with President Bush 85 percent of the time.

— Representative Jean Schmidt (OH-02) has voted with President Bush 87 percent of the time.

— Representative Michael Turner (OH-03) has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time.

— Representative Michael Oxley (OH-04) has voted with President Bush 96 percent of the time.

— Representative Paul Gillmor (OH-05) has voted with President Bush 91 percent of the time.

— Representative David Hobson (OH-07) has voted with President Bush 89 percent of the time.

— Representative John Boehner (OH-08) has supported President Bush 96 percent of the time.

— Representative Pat Tiberi (OH-12) has voted with President Bush 85 percent of the time.

— Representative Steven LaTourette (OH-14) has voted with President Bush 81 percent of the time.

— Representative Deborah Pryce (OH-15) has voted with President Bush 88 percent of the time.

— Representative Ralph Regula (OH-16) has voted with President Bush 89 percent of the time.

— Representative Robert Ney (OH-18) has voted with President Bush 83 percent of the time.

What their record has meant for Ohio:

In exchange for rubberstamping the President’s failed leadership and misplaced priorities, what have these Bush Republicans brought home for Ohio?

— Since President Bush took office, Ohio has lost 190,400 manufacturing jobs since 2000, and family income has dropped by $4,171. (BLS, 8/06; CPS, 10/05)

— There are 1,282,000 people without health insurance in Ohio, an increase of 34,000 since President Bush took office. For those with insurance, premiums have jumped $1,070–a 73 percent increase. (KFF 2005; MEPS 2005)

— Because Republicans have failed to provide promised funding for education reforms, 115,613 Ohio schoolchildren have gone without help in reading and math, while programs to assist children with disabilities have been shortchanged by more than $244 million. (CRS, 1/2006; Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic Staff, 2/06)

— Budget cuts have pushed 8,069 Ohio veterans out of the VA health care system. (VHA Policy & Forecasting 2/24/03, Projected to FY2005)

— The Bush Congress’s refusal to end the Disabled Veterans Tax has undermined retirement security for 7,368 veterans in Ohio. (Veterans Administration / Democratic Leader’s Office, 6/05)

— Bush Republicans tried to force through a risky scheme to undermine Social Security, which provides financial security and peace of mind to 1,929,680 Social Security recepients in Ohio. (NWLC 2/05)

Ohio’s Culture of Corruption

While the Bush Republicans in Washington have failed to stand up for Ohio’s working families, the Bush Republicans in Columbus have brought a shameful culture of corruption to Ohio government.

— Number of criminal counts Republican Governor Bob Taft guilty of: 4.

— Amount of campaign contributions Republican Fundraiser and Bush Pioneer Tom Noe illegally steered to the President’s reelection campaign: $45,400.

— Republican Congressman Bob Ney’s pseudonym in the Jack Abramoff indictment: “Representative No. 1.”

— Amount missing from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation fund: $13 million.

— Number of hours some voters were forced to wait in 2004 because of Ken Blackwell’s failed leadership of the Secretary of State’s office: up to 10.

Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

These are some astonishing numbers and shows you how the Republicans in Ohio have been a great asset to Bush’s rubberstamp Congress. Ohioans feel a need for change more than anyone other state in this country, and it is imperative we all work to make that change this November.

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