Federal and state courts in 14 states ended up reversing, weakening or postponing many of the laws’ most contentious provisions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
In the aftermath of those legal battles, a skeptical electorate wonders whether innocent mistakes, computer glitches and human error by elections workers have a deeper, more sinister intent.
After printing the incorrect election date on voter materials printed in Spanish – but not in English – election officials in Maricopa County, Ariz., made the same mistake a week later with a different document. Once again, the identical English-language materials didn’t have the error.
County Recorder Helen Purcell called the errors regrettable but said accusations that her office was trying to suppress Hispanic voter turnout were “simply a malicious lie.”
Polling by MIT’s Stewart found that roughly 25 percent of voters had doubts about the legitimacy of the 2008 presidential election results. He said recent polls by others suggested that that rate hadn’t changed, nor had there been a large outcry for election revisions as there was after the disputed 2000 election.
“I think what has changed is that this has become a major rallying point for the bases of the parties and for surrogates of the candidates,” he said.
Accusations of partisan politics continue to roil Election Day preparations in Ohio, which many experts think could decide a close presidential race.
Earlier this week, Norman Robbins, the research director at the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, a nonpartisan voter-education group, notified Husted’s office that thousands of requests for absentee ballots may have been rejected improperly statewide because of incomplete data checks by local election officials. The checks mistakenly showed that the applicants weren’t registered to vote. Nearly 900 wrongly rejected ballot requests were found in Cuyahoga County alone, Robbins said.
Cuyahoga is Ohio’s most populous county and a Democratic stronghold.
In response, Husted’s office sent a directive to county election offices to try “at least one (of four) additional search criteria” if the name of an absentee ballot applicant doesn’t appear on the list of registered voters.
These kinds of problems are why Stewart thinks Ohio is the wild card in a close presidential election.
“If Ohio is within 2 percent either way,” he said, “then I think we’re in for about a three-week period of high drama over the canvassing of that election.”