Ohio GOP Finalizes Restrictive Voter Access Laws

Ohio GOP Finalizes Restrictive Voter Access Laws

| On 27, Feb 2014

Ohio Statehouse

I have learned that voter access is one of my pet issues. I have a particular interest in the topic when it deals with the state where I grew up and once voted.

The wheels have fallen off the sanity wagon in Ohio this month. Several measures have made it through the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly that restrict access to the polls for the state’s voters. Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, has signed two of them into law with a third awaiting his signature. These efforts have been done in the name of curbing voter fraud — but many observers are left wondering when and where this supposed “fraud” is committed.

To make things worse, these efforts have been driven in large part by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican. His office controls the elections process statewide.

The three bills that made it through the General Assembly were SB238, SB205, and SB216 (when reading the bills, pay attention to the underlined portions). Here is a summary of what they would change:

  • Sunday and weekday evening voting during the early voting period will be eliminated. Eliminating Sunday voting removes a major opportunity that black churches used to get their (Democratic-leaning) parishioners to the polls — known as “Souls to the Polls.”
  • The early voting window will be reduced from 35 to 29 days.
  • Voters using provisional ballots will seven instead of 10 days to verify their identity after the election. They will also have to provide more information to Boards of Election when confirming their identity.
  • The “Golden Week” in early voting has ended where people could register and vote at the same time.
  • Counties will no longer be allowed to mass-mail absentee ballots, which is helpful in high population areas such as Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. The mailing function is left up to the state in even numbered years. This, however, has to be approved every two years by the General Assembly. They could potentially use this as a weapon to stop voting more by not voting to mail the ballots.

Let’s be honest here. Republicans want to dismantle the state’s growing Democratic influence on a national stage by limiting access to the polls. The more people that show up to the polls, the more the elections tip in Democrats’ favor at all levels of government. Gov. Kasich is up for re-election this November against a strong Democratic challenger from Cleveland, Ed FitzGerald. The state tipped in favor of President Obama in the last two elections. Both houses of the General Assembly are controlled by Republicans — the same people who draw the lines for Congressional districts every 10 years.

There is a lot that Republicans stand to gain now and in the future by the simple act of restricting voter access. It has a snowball effect on so many other areas of life. Since Republicans aren’t know any more for bringing solid ideas to the table, their best strategy is to just cut people out of the political process.

Having power can be so addictive for some…


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