Ohioans ‘sleeping out’ for early vote tonight

Ohioans 'sleeping out' for early vote tonight
Ohioans 'sleeping out' for early vote tonight

If my church home back in Philadelphia, Mother Bethel A.M.E., is skipping a worship service, you know something’s up. The reason they did so yesterday was a good one if civic participation and responsibility is your thing:

As the city, state, and nation await the fate of Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law a little more than a month before the presidential election, a historic church in Philadelphia took matters into its own hands Sunday.

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, at Sixth and Lombard Streets, canceled its 11 a.m. service, and members fanned out to eight congregations, traveling as far as Lancaster, urging people to register - even reregister - to vote.

Their message: If you think you are registered, register again and make sure your voter registration exactly matches the name on your identification card. The voter registration deadline is Oct. 9 in Pennsylvania and Oct. 16 in New Jersey.

Folks at Mother Bethel and elsewhere in Pennsylvania are hitting the streets to educate voters about the election and the state’s increasingly confusing efforts to suppress its own citizens’ vote. Still, they have to wait until November 6 – in my home state of Ohio, they’re about to get started voting tomorrow morning.

As I write, several Ohioans are camping out at various Boards of Elections throughout the state as if they were waiting on Springsteen tickets:

Several Democratic state senators in battleground Ohio plan to mark the start of early voting by sleeping outside local boards of elections offices on Monday night.

Early voting for the Nov. 6 election starts on Tuesday. Ohioans can cast an early ballot by mail or in person without having to give a reason. State senators in some of the Ohio’s largest counties plan to take part in what they’re calling a “Sleep Out The Vote” campaign to raise awareness for early voting. At least five Democratic senators in Hamilton, Lucas, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Mahoning counties plan to stay overnight at their local boards.

About 30 percent of Ohio’s total vote — or roughly 1.7 million ballots — came in ahead of Election Day in 2008.

That last point is key – according to reports, early voting numbers in Ohio are expected to be big; absentee ballot requests already are up from 2008. Tomorrow, we’ll post more here about Ohio; you can click here to watch Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio talking about the “Sleep Out the Vote” initiative, and his re-election fight, earlier this evening on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

Speaking of Pennsylvania, the start of Melissa’s look this past weekend at voter suppression efforts can be seen below. See more of that discussion here.