The Partisan Usages of Election Incompetence

Remember my post from Monday suggesting that “mistakes” made by local Republican election officials in places like Ohio might be worth watching? Get a load of this, from the New York Times:

A Republican-run election board in a northern Ohio county sent out voting instructions to several precincts with the wrong date for Election Day and an incorrect description of the polling place location, leading state Democrats to suggest foul play in a presidential race that could be decided in a handful of states like Ohio by tiny margins.

The Ottawa County Board of Elections sent a mailer to three precincts last week referring to Election Day as Nov. 8, instead of Nov. 6, and said their new voting place was in a building on the east side of the high school rather than on its west side.

The Ohio Democratic Party issued a statement saying, “This error is deeply troubling.” A party spokesman, Jerid Kurtz, said it was “paramount that voters not be misled” and asked the board not only to issue a correction but also to review all its correspondence with voters from the past year.

Now I don’t know for a fact that the affected precincts are heavily Democratic, though the reaction of Democrats suggests it might have been. But in any event, this kind of crap happens every cycle. It’s worth remembering that voter suppression comes in forms other than new laws or voter purges and the direct hassling of people trying to vote outside polling places. Sometimes it comes in the form of befuddled local election officials whose “mistakes” just happen to benefit the party that has put them in office.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.