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29 Oct

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Justice Department Pressed by Bush to Contest 200,000 Ohio Voters

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
Posted on October 27, 2008, Printed on October 27, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/104735/

As the 2008 presidential election heads into its final week, the current president threw a political wild card on table late Friday, when he asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the status of 200,000 Ohio voters.

George W. Bush’s request, if honored, could be politically explosive. It would remind voters of the Department of Justice’s partisan abuses of power in the scandal surrounding the firing of seven U.S. attorneys in 2006 who did not deliver ‘voter fraud’ convictions.

It could be a big distraction, drawing attention away from issues that call for legitimate DOJ intervention, such as shortages of voting machines in minority precincts in Virginia and Pennsylvania, compared to nearby white precincts. That disparity would violate existing civil rights law.

Or it could interject a complicating dynamic into the already heavily litigated Ohio general election, by adding the Department’s weight to GOP legal claims that pre-emptively question the legitimacy of a close vote count in a key battleground state.

Either way, the Department must choose if it will remain silent or get involved in an action that would go well beyond its historic role of quietly monitoring elections and avoiding messages to voters.

“This is taking the politicization of this to a new level, and the last thing we need is for the elections officials and voters of Ohio to be put in a chaotic situation in the last days before the election,” Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the Washington Post, reacting to the White House request.

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