Voting Issues in the News

In case you did not see, NEOCH had another victory in court regarding the counting of provisional ballots on Monday August 27.  The Secretary of State is most likely going to delay implementation of this decision, but the court has ordered him to issue a directive to the local boards of elections regarding the counting of provisional ballots.  We have an overview in our voting section of our website here

The Plain Dealer published an excellent commentary on Saturday from two ministers Tony Minor and Larry Harris.  This was a response to the Columbus Board of Elections member, Doug Preisse who vowed not to cater to the "African American voter turnout machine" by allowing weekend voting. 

What Preisse calls the "African-American voter turnout machine," we call a tremendous success story for civil rights and civic participation. In 2008, 43 years after the Voting Rights Act banned racial discrimination at the ballot box, African-Americans for the first time voted at the same rate as white Americans.

The goal of a democracy is to ensure that as many people as possible who can vote do vote, not to construct arcane rules meant to keep certain groups of people from the polls. We're proud to be part of the "machine" that is fighting these restrictions and getting Americans to the polls despite them. It saddens us that some of our elected officials won't join us.

There also were a series of positive editorials in the Plain Dealer regarding the partisan nature of the Secretary of State's office.  They have suggested uniform standards drafted to maximize participation.  They caution against changes right before the election such as purges or changes in procedure, and should allow variation based on the region.

Doing so would be easier if Ohio removed responsibility for administering elections from a partisan elected official and transferred it instead to a civil servant barred from partisan activity. This is not a rebuke of Husted, who in February 2011 put forward a set of common-sense proposals aimed at resolving procedural questions for this fall long before the campaigns were under way.

Why isn't this a rebuke of the Secretary of State?  While he has put forth a few sensible measures, overall he has pushed initiatives that disenfranchise voters, limit access to the ballot box, and changes the rules to favor one party.  He wants to change the rules for counting provisional ballots which have been in place since 2008.  He wants to make it more difficult for hourly employees, low income and minority populations who want to go with their church to vote in Ohio.  While we would agree that the leadership of the Ohio legislature has openly advocated for rule changes that would harm lower income populations and make it difficult if not impossible for some to vote, Husted has not attempted to stay above the fray.  He voted to restrict Democratic leaning areas to limited early voting hours of 9 to 5 weekdays while Republican areas received evening and weekend hours.  Husted received national criticism for this obvious partisan behavior, and had to retreat to create alleged uniform hours.  He does deserve a great deal of criticism, and the Plain Dealer should "rebuke" him. 

There was an interesting article on August 23 about the varied opinions about early voting hours.  A Greene, Lucas and Mahoning County Board of Elections members have all asked for weekend hours in a letter to Jon Husted.   The article was interesting in that no one except the Columbus board member who started the furor over his comments about African American voter turnout spoke in support of limiting the hours.  The rest in the article said that they would abide by the rules, but no one seemed to express support for the effort to limit the hours. 


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