A group of
Republicans, including two African-American candidates, yesterday
called on Jefferson County GOP Chairman Jack Richardson to resign
because of plans to use vote challengers in the November elections.
Richardson said in an interview yesterday. He said the party may not
use challengers after all, but he is reserving the right to use them
if he feels they'll make for a fairer election.
Last November the
party used Republicans from across the county to watch voting in 18
predominantly Democratic districts — most of them with large
numbers of black voters.
Last week, black
activists discussed how they would offset the presence of
challengers, which they say is nothing more than an attempt to
intimidate black voters. The challengers could ask voters to prove
their identity before they cast ballots.
About a dozen
Republicans gathered outside the Jefferson County Board of Elections
yesterday, calling for Richardson's resignation. About half of them
were African American.
Among them was Ron
Burrell, the GOP candidate for the 35th District state Senate seat.
Burrell, who is black, said that unless Richardson swears off using
challengers, he should step down as county chairman.
In a statement, the
group called plans to use challengers "rogue and racist
Burrell said the
party's use of challengers has hurt his election bid because young
African Americans he is recruiting to vote said they won't vote if
they will be confronted at the polls.
Mary Hardin, who had
served as a Republican poll worker for 13 years, said in an
interview she was angry that she was replaced last November in a
western Louisville precinct by a white Republican who doesn't live
in the area.
She said she visited
several precincts to see who was working and was surprised to see
white Republicans in virtually all of the locations. "None of
the white workers lived anywhere near the West End," she said.
The group also called
on U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, both
Louisville Republicans, to ask for Richardson's resignation.
"We are unhappy
with the way this situation has been handled, and we will
communicate that directly to the chairman," said Northup
campaign manager Patrick Neely, when asked yesterday if Richardson
should resign. Asked if Northup supports poll challengers, Neely
said in a statement: "In every precinct we need two good
Democrats and two good Republicans to work the polls as the law
prescribes. We do not need challengers."
Richardson said he
agrees that poll workers other than challengers are a greater
benefit to the party. He said he is working on placing two workers
at each precinct and will add challengers only if he determines they
are the best way to ensure a fair election.
Some of the white
Republicans who opposed Richardson yesterday have long been engaged
in a political battle with him that had nothing to do with vote
They clashed earlier
this summer when Richardson's wing of the party blocked several of
them who are tied to conservative activist Frank Simon from becoming
delegates to the state Republican Convention.
But the two issues
are not related, said Burrell; his campaign manager, Paris Anderson;
and Linda Cox, a conservative activist who has opposed Richardson.
All were at the gathering.