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Monday, August 30, 1999

The Voting Integrity Project
PO Box 6470
Arlington VA 22206-0470
(888) 578-4343 toll-free
(978) 945-5688 fax
www.votingintegrity.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Deborah M Phillips, President (888) 578-4343

VIP Says Voters Disenfranchised in Ohio Democratic Primary Files "Friend of the Court" Brief in Youngstown Case Appeal

Arlington, VA The Voting Integrity Project, a national non-partisan voter rights organization, has filed an amicus curiae "friend of the court" brief in support of candidate Rick Durkin's legal contest of the Democratic Primary Election May 4 for Clerk of the Youngstown Municipal Court. The case was dismissed by the Court of Common Pleas, and is on an expedited appeal before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The case involves the failure of election officials to remove the name of Charles Sammarone from the absentee and voting ballot lists in a May 4, 1999 primary election for nomination of Clerk of Youngstown Muncipal Court, even though Sammarone withdrew from the contest in a timely fashion. The contestant, Rick Durkin, has alleged that by allowing the primary election to proceed listing Sammarone on the ballots, in violation of the law, affected the outcome of the election, even though ballots cast for Sammarone were voided.

VIP President Deborah Phillips remarked that, "It is an indisputable fact that voters who cast their ballots for Mr Sammarone a number believed to be well in excess of the margin of votes between the two top vote getters had their votes invalidated because election officials broke the law in failing to remove that candidate's name from the ballot prior to the election. For that reason alone, this election should be voided."

VIP's action is part of its Will of the Voters Initiative, which battles cases where voters have had their rights violated. The program has included a similar amicus brief in the District of Columbia where Congress moved to block the counting of votes in a controversial referendum. Phillips explained that "the Supreme Court held over a hundred years ago that the right to vote was preservative of all rights. In the Ohio case, to void the ballots of so many voters because an election was improperly conducted, is unacceptable. That is why the Court should void this election and call a new one."

Phillips became aware of the case when visiting Mahoning Valley in July to present a VIP seminar on election integrity. VIP is organizing a regional program in Mahoning Valley that will train citizens on election law and poll watching.

VIP is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization dedicated to protecting election integrity. In addition to educational seminars, VIP performs investigations of closed elections, provides election recount monitors, registration clean up programs and poll watching programs. All VIP services are free of charge to the requesting community.

Copies of VIP's brief are available upon request.


Copyright 1998 Voting Integrity Project. All rights reserved.
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