NPR's Robert Smith is in Columbus, Ohio reporting on the early voting there. He contacted our voting issues expert Pam Fessler after he saw some fishy behavior...Pam explains:
Robert told me he saw two older women taking down the license plate numbers of cars going to the early vote site (Veterans Memorial) in Columbus, Ohio today. They refused to tell him who they were or why they were doing it. I just checked with the Election Protection people who are covering Ohio. They said they got a handful of calls today from Franklin County voters complaining (or reporting) that people with clipboards were taking down license plate numbers. The lawyer at Election Protection (Ami Sanchez of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights) said they've contacted the Franklin County Board of Elections to alert them. The BOE responded that they were keeping an eye on it. But Ami noted that there's nothing to prevent someone from doing this if they stay outside the zone where electioneering is prohibited. Sanchez said it can be "disconcerting" for voters to have someone writing down information about you.
Apparently AP reporters saw similar activity (people photographing license plates) at Veterans Memorial. Their story says the operatives are Republican lawyers. But on a conference call today, Ohio GOP Deputy Chair Kevin DeWine said he didn't know who was behind the license plate tracking — though he did say the party would be "keeping an eye" on early polling places to guard against fraud.
The Republicans held the call to object to a "Barack the Vote" registration drive planned for a Columbus bar. A flyer advertising the event promised a waived cover and open bar for registered voters and new registrants, courtesy of the host establishment — but it's illegal in Ohio to offer anything of value in return for voter registration. The Franklin County prosecutor contacted the bar about the legal issue after the state GOP forwarded them the flyer, and the event's Facebook page has deleted any reference to the free drinks.