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Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 3/19/2014

EDITORIAL

Ohio mistrusts democracy

Ohio Republicans must not think their political candidates can win a fair fight against Democrats. They’ve decided to rig the state’s election system in their favor, deliberately making voting harder for people who tend to vote Democratic, particularly minorities and the poor.

After years of debate and litigation on this issue, Ohio lawmakers know there is no history of electoral fraud in the state and no pattern of abuse by any voters or groups. The sole reason for a series of recently passed bills is that Ohio is a perennial swing state, and Republicans want to give themselves every possible advantage in sending party members to Congress this year, and putting electoral votes in the GOP column in the 2016 presidential election.

That’s why Gov. John Kasich signed into law the following provisions:

 

  • Six days of early voting have been eliminated, and same-day registration will no longer be allowed on those days, during which more than 50,000 people voted in 2012. Blacks participated in early voting at a higher rate than whites.
  • Absentee voting will become much more difficult, because counties are barred from sending out ballot applications. Voters will have to answer a complicated set of questions for their absentee ballot to count, and they will have to pay their own postage. In 2012, 1.2 million people in Ohio voted absentee.
  • Provisional ballots, used when there is a question about a voter’s identity in a polling place, will face far greater scrutiny, and can be rejected for minute errors.

 

Almost immediately after the laws took effect, the Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, continued the assault by declaring that no early voting will be allowed on Sundays, aware that many black churches helped bring voters to the polls after Sunday services in 2012.

Democrats and urban election officials lodged a strong protest, vowing to file suit and beat back this cynical maneuvering before this fall’s election.

The Brennan Center for Justice reports that 13 states have introduced bills that would expand early voting, and 18 states are trying to make it easier to register. But 11 states are considering bills to require photo identification, and eight states may make it harder to register.

Last week, Republicans in Wisconsin passed a bill that would end early voting on weekends, or on weekdays after 7 p.m., when it might be convenient for working people. Republicans laughably claimed that rural election clerks lack the staff to run early voting, giving urban areas an unfair advantage.

Their real goal, as in Ohio and so many other states, is to keep the advantage to themselves.

— New York Times



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