Jon Husted: Enemy of Democracy

Back in 2004, Ohio voters favored John Kerry over George Bush for the presidency. Very likely, they currently favor President Obama over secretive, contemptuous rich guy Mitt Romney, who believes rules don’t apply to him and government should serve only the ultra-wealthy.

That leaves the GOP with the same option they took in 2004: prevent as many people from voting as possible in groups that tend not to vote Republican — like the voters in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County.

And the un-American, anti-democracy forces in Ohio have a friend in Secretary of State Jon Husted, who this week cast the deciding vote to block Cuyahoga County from offering in-person early voting outside regular business hours — when most people with a job cannot get there. The Cuyahoga board, of course, split along party lines, with Democrats voting to expand access and Republicans voting to limit it.

Given the vast number of poor working people in the county and its overwhelming Democratic tilt, this is clearly about trying to rig the election by making voting as difficult as possible for the county’s left-leaning voters. It follows the acrobatic and dubiously constitutional feat performed by the state legislature to block early voting the three days before the election — the heaviest voting days.

We’ll never know whether John Kerry would have won in 2004 if there had not been outrageously long lines in poor and minority areas of Cleveland and Columbus, as well as on liberal-leaning college campuses like Kenyon and Oberlin. We do know that such lines surely didn’t hurt the Republican cause.

Husted is showing that he is as devoted as former SoS Ken Blackwell to blocking the free, open and equal practice of democracy in the form of fair voting. I’m sure he and his Republican colleagues are looking at the polls showing President Obama with a small but stable lead in Ohio and — realizing that Romney cannot get elected without carrying Ohio — are looking at the only way they can assure that: by destroying democracy in Ohio and corrupting yet another election.

Republicans love to talk about how much they love America and worship the Constitution. But as with their sanctimonious presentation of themselves as better Christians than anyone else, they don’t show it in their actions.

The movement in America has always been to expanding voting right — until recently. And in the last two years, there has been a major drive from the right to put hurdles in the way of voting, whether it’s through brand-new and completely unneeded I.D. laws, limiting voting hours or locations, or encouraging the misleading of voters (which we saw in Ohio in 2004 and more recently in Wisconsin, when robocalls told voters that if they signed the petition to recall Governor Scott Walker, they had already voted and didn’t need to go to the polls).

I hope that whoever runs against Husted for governor in 2014 (I’m holding fast to my belief that Kasich will not run for another term), that they will make an issue of Husted’s support for measures that making voting more difficult for those who face any challenges at all, whether they are students, seniors, or working poor. He should be ashamed of himself. If you ever see him in public with an American flag pin, please ask him politely to remove it. The man makes a mockery of everything this country stands for.

This is the same Jon Husted

who likes to present himself as a hero of fair districting because he pushed in the legislature when he was speaker for a slightly less terrible system of districting that still would have left politicians in the drivers' seat and opened the door to wheeling and dealing and horse trading that favored politicians over communities. I imagine the Democratic rejection of his idea (which was also disfavored by many Republicans and not pushed at all in the current legislature) will be a talking point in the upcoming campaign from the right to defeat Voters First Ohio (the nonpartisan districting commission) on the ballot this November — which it looks increasingly likely to make.

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