Are you a minority, a low-wage worker, a student, or a senior citizen in Ohio? Were you hoping to vote on Election Day? Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you.
From Think Progress:
"Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has followed through on promises to restrict voting opportunities in his state. The change, announced Tuesday, eliminates extended early voting hours on weekdays, the final two days before Election Day as well as Sunday voting..."
This isn't the first time that Husted has tried to cut early voting -- he attempted to cut hours before the 2012 election as well, even openly defying court orders to restore the hours. Early voting was reinstated only after a judge called him into court over the issue and he backed down.
This cut to early voting is a huge blow to Ohioans' voting rights. Now, polls are only open until 5 p.m., so people can't stop by after work to vote. By taking away early voting days during the week, Husted is effectively blocking thousands of votes from low-wage workers, students, the elderly, minority communities, and other groups that, coincidentally, don't vote for Republicans.
Low-wage workers and young people often lack flexibility in their work or school schedules, so cutting early voting means a lot of them will never get to the polls on time. Seniors cannot always get to the polls on on Election Day and rely on others to get them to and from their polling place. So there go your elderly votes. And minorities disproportionately vote on weekends compared to other voter groups; African American voters in particular run "Souls to the Polls" carpools after church to encourage turnout. By cutting Sunday hours, Husted is conveniently wiping a huge chunk of minority votes out of the results.
Ohio is a model for states seeking to depress turnout. It has already trimmed early voting hours; it requires a federal photo ID (and don't allow student IDs). It purposely understaffs polling stations to create long lines that discourage voting; it won't allow college students to use their dorm addresses for voter registration, and it has attempted to purge voter rolls of minorities.
What all of these tactics have in common is simple: They're all aimed at groups that vote Democratic. And the legislators making these laws are, coincidentally enough, Republicans. In fact, the latest voter disenfranchisement laws were passed "With a straight party-line vote" by a Republican state government.
By putting these measures in place now, Ohio Governor Jon Kasich is trying to set his state up for a national Republican victory. And for good reason: Ohio hasn't voted for a losing presidential candidate since 1960 -- and lower voter turnout tends to favor a Republican victory.
It's sad to see a state gradually chip away at the rights of its residents. To see a party so desperate for a victory that they have to suppress participation to get it is irresponsible. Republican Party, you hope to govern these people. How about doing something for them to curry favor, rather than shutting people out? How about voting for a raise in the minimum wage or something that would benefit these "undesirable" voters? How out of touch does your party have to be when its best hope for winning is to keep as many citizens away from the ballot box as possible?
Cut this nonsense out and get it together, Ohio. You can't stop people from exercising their right to vote. Even Pennsylvania knows that.
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