A right-wing voter vigilante group, TrueTheVote, may be pushing their anti-democratic agenda into illegal territory in Ohio by interfering with that state’s official poll worker training regimen one week before the 2012 presidential election. In recent weeks, the Texas-based group, with many local affiliates drawn from Tea Party ranks, has been urging poll workers in key Ohio counties—primarily Republicans—to supplement their official state training with TrueTheVote materials. These Election Day workers are not the observers chosen by political parties who can watch but not interfere with voting; they are the people who are drawn from both parties and employed by the state to run the voting process.
“A few weeks back it was reported that TrueTheVote had talked about doing trainings,” said Brian Rothenberg, ProgressOhio Executive Director. “It appears that some offshoot of the Tea Party is now training elections workers in Hamilton County and we’re starting to hear that it’s happening in other counties, and that requests are being made for lists of poll workers throughout Ohio—to provide extra training.”
It is a crime in Ohio to interfere with conducting an election. Moreover, after the 2004 presidential election the state signed a federal consent decree that, among other things, established uniform poll worker training. Whether TrueTheVote’s interference with the state’s official trainings violates these legal standards has not been tested in court.
But the possibility that the group might be urging poll workers to use different standards other than what’s prescribed by the state is disturbing, said Dan Tokaji, an election law professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.