The Franklin County Board of Elections in Ohio confirms to Whispers that True the Vote, a controversial, Tea Party-affiliated organization supposedly dispatching thousands of vote monitors to the polls Tuesday, has been barred from operating in that county due to improper filings.
Ohio is perhaps the most important battleground state this election. True the Vote had signed up to look for potential voter fraud at 30 polling places in Franklin County, a Democratic-leaning county in Columbus where African-Americans make up 20 percent of the population.
"Observer appointments filed by the True the Vote group... were not properly filed and our Voting Location Managers were instructed not to honor any appointment on behalf of the True the Vote group," Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections, told Whispers in an E-mail.
According to the local Columbus Dispatch, the Houston-based vote monitoring group was actually barred because "at least most of the candidates who supported the organization's effort withdrew their backing." The Dispatch says True the Vote originally obtained signatures of support from at least five candidates for county office, in accordance with Ohio state law.
In a statement on the True the Vote website, president Catherine Engelbrecht also says they were barred after being informed supportive candidates were "rescinding their appointments." Engelbrecht says this happened because of "lawsuits and pressure from [the candidates'] respective parties" to withdraw their support of the group.
The Dispatch notes there are charges that True the Vote may have falsified or copied the supportive candidates names. True the Vote says those allegations are "dangerous and offensive."
"This is a final, desperate attempt to deny citizens their right to observe elections," Engelbrecht wrote on the site. "The Ohio Democratic Party has projected paranoia on an international scale by promoting the idea that concerned citizens would dare observe elections to ensure a fair process. If the Ohio Democratic Party thinks True the Vote-trained poll watchers are legion, wait until it meets our lawyers."