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An Interview with Cliff Arnebeck, National Co-Chair and attorney for The Alliance for Democracy
By Daniel Sturm, The Youngstown Walrus
Nov. 23, 2006

Cliff Arnebeck is the National Co-Chair and attorney for The Alliance for Democracy. In collaboration with AfD founder Ronnie Dugger, the Columbus based attorney launched the Ohio Honest Elections Campaign. Representing thirty-seven Ohio-resident voters, in December 2004 the Columbus-based lawyer filed a lawsuit in Ohio Supreme Court contesting the U.S. presidential election. In this interview, the Walrus asks Arnebeck to talk about his experience of being accused of having an invalid identity card while trying to vote in the 2006 midterm elections.

Sturm: The Columbus Dispatch reported on Nov. 8 that you were initially turned away from voting due to lack of "proper I.D," even though you presented a valid Ohio driver's license and proof of your current address. Can you explain in more detail what happened?

Arnebeck: I was registered at a new address and, when asked for identification, I presented my valid Ohio driver's license with my former address. I was told by the poll workers that I would need to vote provisionally unless I provided identification showing my current address. I was unable to persuade them that they were incorrect. I then returned home to get the utility bill with the current address. When I presented the utility bill I was asked for further identification in the form of the last four digits of my Social Security number. Again I objected that this was not legally required. They insisted again that unless I provided this information I would have to vote provisionally. I then gave them the last four digits of my Social Security number and proceeded to vote by regular ballot. After completing my vote I asked the presiding judge at the polling location to call the Board of elections to confirm that he was misapplying the voter ID law. After proceeding through a couple of staff people we ultimately ended up in a conversation with Patrick Piccinnini, the assistant county prosecutor with whom I had been in federal court the previous day. He confirmed with the presiding judge and me that what I've been saying was correct. He also stated that this issue was a rising in many precincts and they at the Board of elections were correcting the precincts when it was called to their attention that they were erroneously requiring additional identification after a voter presented valid drivers license with a former address. There were election protection people outside the polling location who reported my situation to a statewide team. They advised that this problem was arising all over the state of Ohio. When I got back to my office I called the attorney for the Secretary of State with whom I had been in federal court the previous day. When I described what happened to me she said: "tell me about it - the same thing happened to me and my mother." I then called a law clerk to the federal judge Marbley before whom he had been in court the previous day. I advised him what happened and that this was happening around the state. Not long afterwards I received a call back from the law clerk, Justin Letts, who said that the judge wanted to know exactly where this was happening. I then E-mailed Justin information I had received from the League of Young Voters specific precincts that were reporting to us as a major problem, particularly in precincts around Ohio State University. Not long after I received an e-mail back from Justin saying the judge was taking care of this even as we speak. At around 1:30 p.m. the Secretary of State issued a directive to all the boards of elections on an urgent basis advising them that a current address was not required if the voter presented a valid Ohio driver's license. I was also advised that the Franklin County Board of elections was calling all the precincts serving the Ohio State University area to emphasize the correct application of the requirements in regard to a driver's license.

Sturm: Looking ahead, what's going to happen in 2008, during the presidential election? What safeguards must be taken so that voters can rest assure that their votes will be counted?

Arnebeck: Ohio already had the gold standard of voter identification in the formof the signature in the hand of the registered voter executed in the presence of a poll worker on Election Day. House Bill 3 e was a voter suppression bill - not a voter ID bill. We will press to have that statute declared unconstitutional. Inasmuch as both new Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Mark Dann, our new attorney general, testified and/or argued against the constitutionality of House Bill 3, I expect our chances in court with this litigation have become better. And I also believe that establishing the truth concerning the fraud and civil rights violations that occurred in both the 2000 Florida presidential election and 2004 Ohio presidential election will raise the bar for truthfulness and ethics among the presidential candidates in 2008 of both political parties, as well as for other candidates for federal office. It may also result in a critical review and upgrading of the journalistic standards that allowed many newspapers to editorialize against the efforts to expose the fraud in the 2004 Ohio presidential election.

Daniel Sturm is German journalist who covers under-reported social and political topics in Europe and in the United States. Some of his work can be seen on the Internet, at http://www.sturmstories.com