That of course is the massed effort by the Ohio Republican Party to prevent as many people from voting as possible, while working feverishly to defend an appalling, disenfranchised redistricting map against the Voters First Ohio initiative (Issue 2; vote YES this time) to create a fair, nonpartisan redistricting system.
It's part of the laughably named GOP "True the Vote" effort — a truly Orwellian name for an initiative whose goal is to falsify the vote by making sure some people's access to the polls is easier than others. And the epitome of this shame and disgrace is Ohio's secretary of state Jon Husted who continues to play games with how we vote. He's a man who truly despises democracy when it threatens his party's hold on power.
This weekend a letter appeared in the Columbus Dispatch written by Columbus City Council member Zach Klein. It touches on most of the essential points about Husted's devious actions so I thought I'd share it with those of you not in Columbus or who refuse to read the Dispatch.
Published Saturday, August 25, 2012
Early Voting Rollback is Partisan
Confidence in our government rests on a simple idea: the right to vote. But that fundamental principle has been undermined by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent decisions about our voting system.
With the presidential election just months away, Husted has flip-flopped on early voting. Since 2005, Husted, as a legislator, voted four times to allow weekend and evening voting hours. He even supported it in his own proposed elections bill. Yet, when given the chance to keep the voting hours Ohioans had in 2008 for this general election, Husted changed his mind, threatening to take Ohio back to the dysfunction of 2004.
In 2004, Ohio was the poster child for partisan elections administration. Long lines left up to 10,000 Franklin County voters locked out of the presidential election. It was no way to run an election. That changed in 2008 because voters had expanded early-voting options, including weekday nights, weekends and the final three days before Election Day. There were also standard statewide election procedures and transparent rules regarding the distribution of voting equipment.
Fast-forward to 2012. Husted has unilaterally eliminated in-person voting on the weekends. He also has significantly curtailed weekday voting hours. And Husted has failed to fight the ban prohibiting voting on the final three days before the election — the time when about 93,000 Ohioans exercised their right to vote in 2008.
Why has Husted suddenly abandoned almost eight years of support for expanded access to in-person early voting — access he supported as recently as the 2012 Republican presidential primary in Ohio?
To justify his rollbacks, Husted points to his commendable decision to send vote-by-mail requests to all Ohio voters. But, according to Dispatch reporting, that move will help voters of his own party much more than independents or Democrats, who tend to vote early in person. Moreover, there’s no evidence that sending those requests will prevent long lines on Election Day, potentially disenfranchising thousands of Franklin County voters. By increasing vote-by-mail and decreasing in-person voting, Husted has tipped the scales in favor of his party’s candidates.
Husted also claims “uniformity” as a reason for his decisions. All Ohioans should have the same opportunities to vote. But uniform orders are harmful when they abbreviate weekday voting hours and eliminate weekend voting altogether. When it comes to voting, Ohio’s election administrator should err on the side of access to the polls, not on the side of exclusion.
Husted has rightly criticized former secretaries of state for actions that could be seen as partisan manipulation of elections, whether it’s trying to ignore voter-registration cards not printed on 80-pound paper or attempting to throw out thousands of absentee-ballot requests because of a missing check box. But it’s hard not to characterize Husted’s 2012 decisions, especially in light of national antics aimed at erecting barriers to the polls, as anything other than partisan.
Our nation, state and community will make big decisions in the 2012 election, decisions that shouldn’t be undermined by partisan manipulation of our election system. If there’s anything in America that shouldn’t be influenced by politics, it’s the right to vote. Americans and Ohioans deserve better.
ZACH M. KLEIN
Columbus City Councilman