Anti-Bush Group Targets Ohio in Vote Drive

America Coming Together (search), an independent political group opposing the re-election of President Bush, has focused its early get-out-the-vote efforts most heavily in Ohio by spending at least $1.1 million over a six-month period and hiring more than 700 people, says a report on the group's activities.

"What they've done so far supplies a little bit of a blueprint of what they might do in future months," said Derek Willis, who researches such groups for the Center for Public Integrity (search).

Other swing states that saw the heaviest investment, though less than Ohio, were Pennsylvania ($555,982), Missouri ($423,269) and Florida ($252,163). The money was spent between Aug. 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004, for voter registration as well as administrative costs like direct mail and fund-raising activities.

Democrats are getting substantial help in their get-out-the-vote efforts from groups like ACT, which is called a 527 group, named after the section of the tax code that governs political committees.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported that ACT hired convicted felons to conduct door-to-door registration drives. The group later pledged that it would weed out any employees convicted of violent or serious offenses.

Republicans are relying on the national and state parties as well as networks of volunteers to get out the vote, culminating with its 72-hour program, which recruits voters in the days leading up to the election.

Democratic-leaning groups, especially the AFL-CIO, were successful in 2000 with their get-out-the-vote efforts, and Republicans responded in 2002 with its own effective voter turnout effort.

"It's an arms race in the get-out-the-vote effort," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson.