Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Did Limbaugh's Crossover Voters Break Ohio Law?

A reader referred me to this story ( which looks at a phenomenon that has happened in a number of states, including Virginia based on what some Republican friends told me themselves: they voted for Hillary in the Democrat primary because - as encouraged to do so by Rush Limbaugh - they see Hillary as the more easily defeated Democrat in November and, therefore, want her to be the Democratic Party nominee. and voted for her to reduce Obama's results.
The difference is that in Virginia, unlike Ohio, no one has to register to vote by part affiliation. You only get to vote in one party's primary, but are free to pick which party each time there is a primary. Not so in Ohio and in some other states. In fact, in Ohio, changing primaries for such a purpose is a criminal offense and punishable by a fine of $2,500. Yet apparently, a number of Ohio Republicans are talking about the fact that they did exactly that. Thus, the question becomes: did Hillary really win among DEMOCRAT voters. Remember, Bill Clinton went on the Limbaugh show just prior to the Texas and Ohio primaries. Here are some highlights:

It seems that some Republican voters have bragged online that they voted Democratic ballots in the Ohio March 4th primary in order to influence the outcome of the presidential election. Essentially, they wanted to help Hillary Clinton win the Democratic nomination over Barack Obama because they think she's the weaker candidate and would lose against Republican John McCain in November.

The so-called Republican "plot" was instigated by conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh (at right) who urged Republican voters in Ohio and Texas before the election to cross over for the primary to rig the nomination for the November election. Voters in those states could do this at the last minute because their local election laws allow voters to change party affiliation at the polls.

Ohio's revised election code includes an election falsification clause (Revised Code 3513.20), which says that if a voter who changes parties is challenged by poll workers as to the sincerity of his change of heart and also signs an affidavit stating that he supports the principles of the party to which he's changing -- when in fact he doesn't support them -- then he would be committing election falsification. Election falsification is a felony that is punishable by six to twelve months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

It's clear that cross-over voting occurred in large numbers in Ohio this year. The Ohio secretary of state's office doesn't have statistics yet on how many voters crossed parties in the primary (it's still compiling them), but the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that in Cuyahoga County alone, the state's largest county, at least 16,000 Republicans switched parties for the primary. The statewide numbers of cross-over voters could be large, since the secretary of state's office reports that the number of Democratic ballots cast in this primary as opposed to the number cast in the 2004 presidential primary increased by nearly a million, or 76 percent. (In comparison, the number of Republican ballots cast this year increased by only about 100,000, or 11 percent. These numbers do not include absentee, provisional and overseas ballots, which are still being counted.)

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