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New voting hours in Ohio's urban centers are aimed at discouraging Democratic voters.
Remember that kid on your block who could never win without cheating? He grew up to be a Republican official, no doubt. Because given a level playing field and a clear idea of what they're up to, voters usually give them the boot. Now that dynamic is working out on a large skill in Republican-controlled states, where ALEC-designed voting laws and voting officials are busily stacking the deck against a Democratic win:
Ohio has introduced a new tactic in their broader attempts to make it even harder for Democratic voters to get to the polls this year. Early voting stations in Ohio’s heavily Democratic counties will only be open between 8 am and 5 pm, while Republican counties have expanded their hours to allow voting on nights and weekends.
This rule is the latest in a broader attack on voting rights in Ohio, which often comes down to a tiny margin of votes. Ohio Republicans are currently ensconced in a legal battle with the Obama campaign over another new rule that would limit early voting in the three day period before the election exclusively to military families. Mitt Romney falsely claims Obama’s lawsuit is meant to take away voting rights from military families, when in fact he is simply trying to restore voting rights to all Ohio residents. Early voting was introduced to mitigate Ohio’s notoriously chaotic elections, in which thousands of votes are tossed due to clerical errors and bureaucratic confusion.
Starting October 1st, voters in Democrat-leaning urban centers including Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo will now only be allowed to vote between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays, when the majority of people are at work. The board of elections in these counties, which are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, was gridlocked over a Democratic effort to expand hours. The Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted stepped in to deny expanded hours in these counties. But Republican-heavy counties have actually expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends, when most people have time to go to the polls. The Nationreports:
According to the Board of Elections, 82% of early voters in Franklin County voted early on nights or weekends, which Republicans have curtailed. The number who voted on nights or weekends was nearly 50% in Cuyahoga County.“I cannot create unequal access from one county board to another, and I must also keep in mind resources available to each county,” Husted said in explaining his decision to deny expanded early voting hours in heavily Democratic counties. Yet in solidly Republican counties like Warren and Butler, GOP election commissioners have approved expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends.
Besides historically favoring Democrats, these urban centers comprise Ohio’s most populous and diverse counties. 28 percent of Cuyahoga County is African American, as is 20 percent of Franklin County. President Obama won the African American vote by 95 points in Ohio.