CLEVELAND – The ACLU of Ohio today issued a strong condemnation of the Secretary of State and the Ohio Republican Party’s attempts to place so-called “challengers” at the polls on Election Day. The ACLU of Ohio warned the public that challengers at the polls represent just the sort of threat to minority voters fair-minded Americans defeated in the fights for voting rights of the 1950s and 60s.
Disturbed by the Republican Party’s targeting of African American precincts, the ACLU of Ohio today called for the withdrawal of all challengers.
Executive Director Christine Link said, “What we see from the Republican Party in Ohio is an orchestrated plan to disenfranchise the African American community in this state. Their efforts take us back to the days of the poll tax and the literacy test. Here in Ohio in 2004 we are looking at a return to Jim Crow electoral politics with a viciousness reminiscent of the racism of the early 1960s in the deep South.”
ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeff Gamso concurred saying, “In places like Hamilton County, we have seen that there is a conscious effort by the Republican Party to target the African American community. In Hamilton County, 250 out 251 precincts targeted by Republicans with challengers are African American precincts. All Ohioans should be embarrassed by these tactics and ought to reject the politics of fear, intimidation, and race hatred.”
The nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU of Ohio is a state affiliate of the national ACLU. Funded entirely through charitable gifts and membership dues, the ACLU defends individual rights through litigation, lobbying, and educational initiatives. The ACLU of Ohio has a staff office in Cleveland and community and campus chapters located in every region of Ohio. There are over 18,000 ACLU members and supporters in Ohio and over 400,000 nationwide. To learn more about the ACLU of Ohio interested persons are invited to visit the organization’s website at www.acluohio.org.