The 80 lb stench from Ohio

My old fraternity brother and Ohio-resident Rob Calhoun over at has chimed in with his own frustration at Ohio’s (Republican) Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell‘s decision to require Ohio Boards of Election to reject voter registration forms that aren’t printed on 80 lb card stock:

The 80 lb card stock requirement is from the days when the cards themselves were the archival record. Given how registration is processed today, it is hard to view Mr. Blackwell’s sudden enforcement of this rule in a charitable light. I’m also perturbed by the fact that our Board of Election’s voter registration web page no longer seems to have a .pdf file of the voter registration form available; I’m really pretty sure that’s where I downloaded the pdf I have.

It’s difficult not to view this as a back-handed effort to roll back some of the gains that Democrats have made in registering new voters in Ohio this year as described in this New York Times story.

Looking at the Wayback machine, it looks like they provided a PDF of their voter registration form from the page’s first capture in 2001 until sometime after August of last year — it had been unlinked by December, but apparently the PDF was still available when the Wayback last indexed the page in February of this year (it has since been removed from the main site).

Butler County, OH, on the other hand, still has their Online Voter Registration Form on the Web with the instructions:

In order to use this form as a registration for the purpose of voting you MUST:

  1. click “next” and print the form
  2. sign the form in the appropriate area
  3. mail it to the Butler County Board of Elections

Their Web form creates a nice little registration page for you to print out and mail in, with the instructions Please adjust the margins to .25 inches under Page Setup to avoid misprinting the form below. No mention of card stock. I find it hard to imagine a non-underhanded reason for newly enforcing this rule, except perhaps a suddden onset of dimentia on the part of Blackwell — Rob’s right, this stinks to high heaven.

UPDATE: Blackwell has since “clarified” his position, and says he’ll accept all voter registrations submitted by the deadline. Good for him — I wish I could believe this was just a simple misunderstanding though.