Image: Hillary O'Connor Mueri campaign

In a nice little bit of early ratfucking for 2020, the Ohio GOP is falsely accusing a Democrat running for Congress of having done voter fraud, even though in reality she definitely did not vote twice in the 2008 presidential primary. And even after the claim was conclusively debunked within 24 hours, the state GOP is sticking to its original, inaccurate story. Judd Legum's Popular Information newsletter has all the details, and wow, what a fine crew these Ohio Republicans are. It's also a case study of the sort of crap Democrats should be ready to deal with in the age of Trump.

The target of the smear is Hillary O'Connor Mueri, who's running for the District 14 seat currently held by Republican Dave Joyce, who was appointed to fill it in 2012 and has held on to it since. If you haven't heard of Joyce, neither had we, at least until we checked the Wonkette archives and saw he'd explained in 2013 that the only reason there's any unemployment at all in America is that employers "can't find people to come to work sober, daily, drug-free and want to learn the necessary skills going forward to be able to do those jobs." So, a pretty good guy.


Mueri is running in a Republican-leaning district, but she has good credentials: She's an Ohio native who became a Naval Flight Officer and flew combat missions over Iraq. After the Navy, she completed law school and worked on aviation product liability cases, and also worked pro bono for battered women. Ah, but maybe she's secretly a terrible person who did voter fraud? Legum explains the trumped-up claim. Last Thursday,

the Ohio Republican Party filed a complaint against Mueri with the Ohio Attorney General, alleging that Mueri voted in both the Ohio and California primaries in 2008. The Ohio Republican Party accused Mueri of committing a "felony in the fourth degree" by voting in two states in the same election. The party urged the Attorney General to prosecute Mueri, even though the alleged violations fell outside of Ohio's six-year statute of limitations.

Mueri's campaign told Cleveland.com that she "can't fathom why" Ohio records showed she submitted an absentee ballot for the '08 primary, and that she didn't believe she had (more on that in a moment).

Republicans and the media piled on, without doing any further checking of the claim. Frank LaRose, Ohio's secretary of state, issued a statement saying such bad behavior was "the exact type of violation I would refer to the Attorney General for investigation — you can't vote twice in the same election," and sermonizing about the sanctity of the vote in a free republic, and how it's undermined by such callous disregard for the law.

Local media reported on the claim, and the story even got some national attention, including a note in Politico's daily campaign roundup newsletter and a piece in the rightwing maniac forum TownHall, which dismissed Mueri's contention that the GOP complaint was one more stunt aimed at "voter suppression," because there's no such thing, as proved by the scare quotes around "voter suppression."

By Friday the smear fell apart when the Lake County Board of Elections issued a statement debunking the GOP accusation: While Mueri had requested an absentee ballot for the 2008 primary, she hadn't returned it. No double vote, no problem.

The statement also explained why the GOP's cursory search of records made it look like Mueri had double-voted. At the time, the elections board's policy had been to "grant voter history credit" to anyone who requested an absentee ballot, regardless of whether the ballot was returned. That policy has since been changed.


Oh, yes, and the election board's director pointed out that nobody had bothered to ask the board to check its full records until Friday, February 14, the day after the Ohio GOP accused Mueri of a felony and demanded an investigation. That single request for the records search came from Mueri's campaign, in an attempt to figure out what had happened.

Just like case after case of rightwing panic over "voter fraud" (a term that has damn well earned its scare quotes), the full record shows there's nothing there — just bad paperwork and sloppy comparisons of records. And yes, let's remind you again just how shitty the Interstate Crosscheck system is, although that system — the brainchild of GOP panicmonger Kris Kobach — is still used by many states to flag possible double registration ... or just people with the same name and birthday. We don't know if that's how the Ohio GOP flagged Mueri, however.

So you'd better believe the Ohio GOP has withdrawn its complaint and apologized profusely to Mueri for its mistake, right? Haha, you are very old-fashioned! As Legum points out,

The Ohio Republican Party, however, is standing by its smear. "We look forward to the results of the Attorney General's investigation into this matter," Ohio Republican Party Executive Director Rob Secaur said in a statement.

Local media quickly corrected their reporting, and Politico's newsletter yesterday included an update on the county election board's statement, and updated its initial story after Yr Dok Zoom contacted the writer. Townhall hasn't yet corrected its story; as of blogtime, I haven't heard back from a direct message to the columnist; we'll let you know.

Mueri has called on Rep. Joyce to disavow the state party's attempt to smear her, but so far, he hasn't said a thing. Possibly he's having trouble finding sober aides who wake up on time and come to work. And Secretary of State Frank LaRose hasn't commented either, although he's been very busy reminding Ohioans that early voting for March's primary elections starts today. He also found time over the weekend to get on Facebook to address the important issue of Jane Fonda being a traitor in the '60s, because she's been invited to speak at Kent State's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Ohio National Guard's May 4, 1970, massacre of students there.

And let's not forget that Ohio is one of several grounds zero for the GOP's war on voters, which seeks to create the impression that "voter fraud" is such a huge problem that voting restrictions are needed. Not only did the Supreme Court give the state the go-ahead to purge voter rolls based on flimsy evidence, Mr. LaRose is making a big show of cracking down on "voter fraud." In December, he identified 18 cases of possible double votes, claiming records showed both a physical vote in one place and an absentee vote elsewhere. He referred the 10 that occurred in Ohio to the state attorney general.

Wonder how many of those will turn out to be as bogus as the claim against Ms. Mueri? Nah, that's impossible. He probably did his homework real good this time.


Also, here is another photo of Ms. Mueri and her doggos, and a linky to her campaign site.

[Popular Info / Ohio.com / Ohio.com / Ohio.com]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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