CINCINNATI - Close to one in every three newly registered Ohio voters 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.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner estimated that an initial review found that about 200,000 newly registered voters reported information that did not match motor-vehicle or Social Security records, Brunner spokesman Kevin Kidder said. Some discrepancies could be as simple as a misspelling, while others could be more significant.
The 6th 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.
"Things already are in motion to comply," Kidder said. "We're working to establish these processes on how we can make this work. The computer work actually began last week."
About 666,000 Ohioans have registered to vote since January.
Brunner previously cross-checked new-voter registrations with databases run by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle and the Social Security Administration and made the results available online, but the 6th Circuit said the information was not accessible in a way that would help county election boards ferret out mismatches.
Brunner, a Democrat, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer on Wednesday that she is concerned the court decision is a veiled attempt at disenfranchising voters. Brunner said she'll urge counties not to force these people to use provisional ballots.
The court gave Brunner until Friday to get election boards the information but it was unclear whether that deadline would be met. The court set no penalty for missing the deadline.
County election officials were trying to determine Wednesday how they will respond once they get the information.
"I'm very concerned with these new requirements as we get closer to Election Day," said Steve Harsman, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections in Dayton. He said his staff already is working 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
"It's clearly going to have an impact in regard to resources we have to expend to resolve discrepancies," said Jeff Hastings, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland.
"We've had about 100,000 (registrations) since January and of those about 34,000 since the primary. We will do whatever is required of us."
Also Wednesday, the Ohio Republican Party said it has filed public records requests with all 88 counties for copies of forms submitted by newly registered voters, especially those who registered and cast an absentee ballot on the same day during a one-week window earlier this month.
Brunner has said that 13,141 Ohioans registered and voted immediately during the window.
"We've seen reports of fraudulent registrations, and we want to see those forms first-hand," said Jason Mauk, the state GOP's executive director.