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City Commissioners will decide this morning whether to consider petitions requesting that hundreds of University area voters be barred from casting ballots in the upcoming November 6 general elections. Local Republicans this month filed petitions asking that over 700 voters -- all of them registered as Democrats or independents -- be stricken from the roles because they had failed to re-register after changing voting divisions. Yesterday, the commissioners began hearing arguments on the petitions. The hearing was recessed so they could decide whether Republicans had properly served notices of the challenges. If it is determined that the notices were not properly served, the petitions will be rejected. Republicans, however, may appeal. University students are especially hard hit by the petition drive, which has become a tradition for area Republican leaders, because many students move to new residences each year and are not aware that they have changed divisions. Although about 700 petitions were filed, the actual number of voters in question is smaller, since some of those on the list are students who have graduated and moved away from the area. Democratic 27th Ward Leader Kevin Vaughan, who appeared at the hearing yesterday to challenge the petitions, said the commissioners have denied similar petitions twice before. Those denials occured when the commissioners, not their assistants, conducted the hearings, he said. The city requires challengers to notify voters at their old addresses. Matthew Wolfe, the 27th Ward Republican leader who led the drive to challenge Democrat and independent voters, said last night that the Republican Committee had adhered to that rule. "For years [the commissioners] took [the petitions] because we essentially followed their form and we followed the same procedures their investigators followed," Wolfe said. But Democratic leaders have raised questions about the effectiveness of the notice deliveries. Kevin Vaughan, the Democratic 27th Ward leader, said last night that notices were left with desk clerks in some large residences on campus, such as the High Rises. "Those people are not paid to be service acceptors for students," Vaughan said. Wolfe said that the Republican committee does not file the petitions until after the voting registration deadline, October 9, because members prefer to spend their time before the deadline getting people to register. Republican leader Wolfe said that his main concern is to keep the voting list current. "We played their game, and we played it by their rules," Wolfe said. "Now they appear to be changing the rules." Students who have moved since they last registered to vote may be on the Republicans' list, and can call that City Commissioners' office to find out their status.

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