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Over Zealous Republican Attorney Demands Ballot Scrutiny "Or Else"

In a letter issued Friday, attorneys for the Oregon Republican Party demanded that ballots cast by voters in Multnomah County who have not provided proof of identification be set aside and challenged if necessary.

Democrats challenged that request Sunday, saying it flies in the face of Oregon law, which does not require voters to show proof of identification when registering.

At stake are the votes of 207,053 first-time voters, of whom 73,226 are between the ages of 18 and 24. Nearly a third live in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, according to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
This story has been running on local television news this evening - on 2 and 8. Apparently a letter was sent for one of the attorneys purporting to represent the Republican Party and the Bush/Cheney campaign, challenging the ballots of all new voters.

The letter says that if the new ballots are not held up and double checked, the Oregon Republican Party will challenge even more ballots and stall the entire Oregon State election.

Multnomah County currently verifies the identify of these new voters by comparing the signatures on their ballot envelopes with the signatures on their voter registration cards. If the signatures do not match, the ballots are held and are not counted. If a ballot arrives without a signature on the outer envelope, it will not be counted. It would seem that the proposed "proof finding" mission would be, for the most part, an expensive, intimidating, and time-consuming waste of time.

Fielding questions about the letter, Senator Ron Wyden decried the effort, saying that he and Republican Senator Gordon Smith had already ironed out an agreement that covered the voting by mail scenario satisfactorily. He noted that the action was inappropriate and should be withdrawn.

Republican State Chairman Kevin Mannix stated that he had no knowledge of the letter and had not approved it. This evening the national Bush/Cheney campaign office in Washington DC issued a statement saying that it had nothing to do with the letter and the demand, although it verified that the attorney whose name appeared on the legal papers was indeed one of the lawyers working for the reelection committee and the Republican party.

So, OK, Fine!! 31.Oct.2004 20:15

pix

Well, then, if they were to "really" want to fuck up the election, then all ballots in Medford, Beaverton, Clack, Eastern Oregon, get challenged too....I mean, what goes around....maybe we won't have any president.... Ohh Ohh...what would we do....what would we do....I might forget how to chew.

How Lowe Can You Go? 31.Oct.2004 22:30

Framboise

The Republican challenge is set out in a letter dated Friday signed by Matthew Lowe, an attorney in the Portland law firm of O'Donnell & Clark, which according to the letter represents the Oregon Republican Party and the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign. Lowe is an associate in the firm, specializing in "for-profit and nonprofit corporate and business law; taxation issues affecting small business and non profit entities; employment matters; and business and real estate." Sounds like he's moved a little out of his field to handle this issue.

The letter is addressed to John Kauffman, director of elections in Multnomah County.

Oregon Republican Party Chairman stated this evening that he knows nothing about the letter which is the same message Bush Headquarters in Washington DC voiced in its press release. Neither spoke out against the letter and charges, however.

THIS IS THE GUY'S CONTACT INFORMATION:

Matthew D. Lowe
Attorney
1706 NW Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 306-0224
 http://www.oandc.com/lowe.html
Lowest of the Lowe
Lowest of the Lowe

Latest from Oregon Live 31.Oct.2004 22:34

Rukmini Callimachi

Article on Oregon Live (Oregonian's website):
 link to www.oregonlive.com

Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to block thousands of votes
10/31/2004, 7:16 p.m. PT
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Democrats accused Republicans Sunday of trying to block thousands of young people's votes, following a formal request by GOP lawyers to review ballots cast by first-time voters in Oregon's most populous county.

In a letter issued Friday, attorneys for the Oregon Republican Party demanded that officials set aside ballots cast by new voters in Multnomah County who have not provided proof of identification.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said that the Republican demand flies in the face of Oregon law which does not require voters to show proof of identification when registering.

"This is not Florida. We are about empowering citizens," said Wyden, who helped draft the relevant portion of Oregon's election law.

He held a press conference Sunday in downtown Portland to counter the GOP request.

Statewide, 207,053 first-time voters registered after May and 73,226 of them are under the age of 25, according to numbers provided by Sunlight Data Systems, a database manager working for groups backing Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Twenty percent of the new voters live in Multnomah County, home to liberal Portland.

"They are in effect asking this country to change the rules 14 days into our 18-day election," said Tim Nesbitt, the pro-Kerry president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. "Think of one team trying to change the rules late in a ball game and applying those new rules only on their opponents' home field," he said.

Two years after the voting controversy in Florida, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, aimed at curbing voting irregularities. One of its many provisions was a requirement that voters show proof of identification when voting.

Oregon's congressional delegation took issue with that requirement because of Oregon's unique vote-by-mail system, which had previously allowed citizens to simply send in their ballots. It's more difficult for a person voting by mail to Xerox their driver's license and include it along with their mail-in ballot, than it is for a person voting at a polling booth to pull it out of their pocket and show to an elections official, the delegation argued.

The bipartisan "Oregon Compromise," drafted by Wyden and Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, added language which created an exception for Oregon as a way to preserve its unique vote-by-mail system.

Oregon Elections Director John Lindback said the state will fight the Republican request and stressed that the GOP concern is unfounded.

"For years in Oregon when a person signed their voter registration card, they were warned that if they didn't tell the truth they would be charged with a Class C Felony that carries a $150,000 fine or up to five years in jail," said Lindback. "It's a very serious penalty and we believed that the warning was enough," he said.

He questioned the GOP's sincerity, given that the request for ballot segregation was only sent to Multnomah County.

"It looks like they're trying to stop votes from being counted in a highly liberal county. Why not in traditionally conservative counties like Baker or Umatilla or Malheur. It looks very partisan," Lindback said.

The Republican challenge is set out in a letter dated Friday signed by Matthew Lowe, an attorney in the Portland law firm of O'Donnell & Clark, which according to the letter represents the Oregon Republican Party and the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign. It is addressed to John Kauffman, director of elections in Multnomah County.

"The purpose of this letter is to demand that those ballots cast by persons who have yet to provide valid identification be set aside so that voter's registration can be reviewed and verified, and the ballots challenged if necessary," Lowe writes.

"In the event we cannot reach agreement on this matter, our client's only option will be to challenge each and every ballot cast in which a voter's identity and qualifications are still in question," the letter said.

Wyden said that although he is confident Oregon would prevail in a legal challenge, a lawsuit this close to the election would serve to discourage voters especially young ones who, according to the senator, already feel as if their votes do not count.

"Florida was decided by 537 votes and most college dorms are that size," said Wyden. "You bet that if a suit is filed tomorrow it could have a chilling effect, especially on younger voters."

Kevin Mannix, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, did not immediately return calls late Sunday afternoon.

The Man Behind The Puppet: Kelly Clark Of O'Donnel & Clark 31.Oct.2004 23:46

Amadeus

Kelly W.G. Clark Of O'Donnel & Clark

Political Activity

Founder and Chairman, Oregon Republican Leadership Institute, 1997 - 2002

Steering Committee or Legal Counsel:
2004 Ballot Measure 36: The Defense of Marriage Amendment
2002 Jack Roberts for Governor Campaign
2002 Rob Kremer for State School Superintendant
1998 Molly Bordonaro for Congress Campaign
1996 Tom Simpson for State Representative Campaign
1994 Craig Berkman for Governor Campaign
1994 Anti-Child Pornography Initiative Campaign

State Representative, Oregon Legislature, 1989 - 1993

 http://www.oandc.com/clark_CV.html
 http://www.oandc.com/clark.html

Go ahead and let them challenge 01.Nov.2004 00:35

But make them pay

But charge them for all the increased cost their challenges incur and charge them a fine for every challenge that turns out to be a valid voter.

Kelly Clark is a Bastard 01.Nov.2004 02:33

.

He is the main attorney for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, and the primary litigant challenging the Gay Marriage in Multnomah County.

Call Amy Casterline, Oregon GOP 01.Nov.2004 09:54

Goggleman

Here is Amy Casterline's Cell # 503-510-4160. The Oregon GOP gave it to me when I was bumped out of her office voicemail. She would love top hear what you think on this matter.

Non Story? 01.Nov.2004 10:49

Cheney Watch

Latest I heard, the Repugs are saying that this law firm was not hired by them and does not represent them. Members of the firm are Repug volunteers who have obviously gone out of control.

Weird thing . . . although Oregon Live carried the article listed here online, there's no article on this in the morning OREGONIAN although there is a generic article on voting by mail which doesn't make any reference to the letter.