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Federal court blocks pre-election voter challenges

The New York Times reports: A federal judge on Wednesday blocked six boards of elections in Ohio from proceeding with hearings into Republican-initiated efforts to knock tens of thousands of registered voters off the voting rolls.

The temporary restraining order issued by Judge Susan J. Dlott of Federal District Court in Cincinnati made it likely that few, and perhaps none, of the challenge hearings would proceed before Election Day, state officials said. ...

The hearings had been scheduled in 65 of Ohio's 88 counties to review challenges that Republicans brought last week against what they said were 35,000 questionable voter registrations, most of them from urban, heavily Democratic neighborhoods.

The Republicans contended that the registrations were questionable because mail sent to those addresses had been returned as undeliverable - evidence, they said, of fraud. This week, about 10,000 of the challenged registrations were withdrawn or dismissed, in many cases due to filing errors.

On Wednesday, Republicans said that if hearings did not go forward this week, they intended to challenge many of the 35,000 registrants in person if they showed up to vote. -- G.O.P. Bid to Contest Registrations in Ohio Is Blocked (New York Times)

But challenging voters at the polls may be an effective way to make voting a frustrating and frightening experience. As Ion Sancho told the BBC's Greg Palast recently, "Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on election day; and discourage voters from voting."