I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.”
~ Doug Preisse, Republican Party chairman of Franklin County
Here’s the thing about the sacred right to vote. It’s only a right as long as you have it. They don’t have to take it away from all at once. Killing it off by a slow death of a thousand cuts will get the job done just as effectively.
The hard-right conservatism of the Republican Party does not appeal to Black voters. This is simply a fact. Here in Ohio, a perennial battleground state, the Republicans recognize this and have resolved to address it by doing all they can to suppress the Black vote as Think Progress reported:
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, a day typically important to African-American voters because churches use it to turn out votes.
The early voting period is vital to the elderly, low-income voters, and anyone else with limited means to get to the polls, not to mention that it cuts down on election-day long lines and chaos. MSNBC notes that in 2008, black voters made up 56 percent “of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.”
Husted’s announcement comes on the heels of other Ohio initiatives to suppress turnout. Ohio just passed two bills that eliminates an entire week of early voting and end the practice of mailing absentee ballots.
Naturally Husted would never say he’s going to make it harder to vote. The Big Lie told by the GOP is they are streamlining the process and making it fairer.
“In 2014, absentee voters will have the option of voting in person for four weeks, or they can vote without ever leaving home by completing the absentee ballot request form we will be sending all voters,” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said. “Our goal is to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat and to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity in the voting process no matter which method they choose.”
“Easy to vote and hard to cheat?” That’s a different line than Husted’s rap last year when his office and the state’s 88 country boards conducted investigations looking for fraud in the 2012 presidential elections and came back with 135 cases they recommended for prosecution.
Wow. That many? Go get those crooks, Jon-Boy! Uh-uh. Not so fast. Every whiff of smoke doesn’t mean there must be a forest fire.
“Voter fraud does exist, but it is not an epidemic,” Husted said. “To put this into context, … that’s 135 referrals out of more than 5.6 million votes cast.”
Well, that’s disappointing, but 135 cases is good enough for the G.O.P. Let’s go ahead and shorten the early voting period by six full days and get rid of same-day voter registration. While we’re at it let’s cut the number of voting machines in the state and increase wait time for voters at the polls. Especially those old Black ones. Watching them shiver in the November cold to cast their ballots will be fun!
Once upon a time Blacks had to march in the streets and even die for the right to vote. Just because marches aren’t popular and nobody’s dying doesn’t mean Blacks can relax and stop fighting to keep and protect their hard-won rights.
The Republicans are engaged in one of the historically most efficient political tactics: suppress the vote and by making it harder for people whom aren’t going to vote for you to for vote for the other guy, you win. Voter suppression works for Republicans and that is today’s Black History Moment. If we sit idly by it will be tomorrow’s Black future.
What the enemies of our progress take away we can take back. IF we are willing to fight for it. Hoping someone else will come along and get our rights back won’t do it. When it comes to voter suppression Husted and Kasich are only getting started.