Buckeye of the storm: Why Ohio voting rights matter

Updated
Photo: AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File
Photo: AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File
Haraz N. Ghanbari

With only 14 days until election day, it has become even clearer that Ohio voters are probably going to be deciding whether Mitt Romney gets to move into the White House, or President Obama gets to stick around for another four years.

Nate Silver of the New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog posted this map of “Tipping Point States” this morning:

By his math, it’s basically a 50-50 chance that Ohio voters will decide this election at this point, but you don’t have to crunch the numbers to know this. The candidates tipped everyone off last night when they spent more than 5 minutes of a foreign policy debate talking about the auto industry bailout. The bailout had a significant impact in Ohio, where 1 in 8 jobs is tied to the auto industry. According to at least one report, Ohio was mentioned more often in the spin room last night than any foreign country.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are campaigning in Ohio Tuesday. Paul Ryan will be there Wednesday. This is the state that matters, which is why voter suppression of any kind in Ohio stands to impact this election more than it might anywhere else.

Many of the biggest voting issues have been decided. Early voting has been reinstated for the three-days leading up to Election Day. The voter fraud billboards that critics said were intended to intimidate minority voters are being removed. Unfortunately many issues remain that have voting rights advocates worried.

A GOP-controlled election board in Ottawa county has admitted sending voters in three precincts error-ridden instructions. Voters were given the wrong date and location for the election. This is in a county that Obama narrowly won in 2008. According to officials this bad information went to 2,300 voters.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Ohio last played a pivotal role in an election. The Buckeye State gave George W. Bush his electoral map edge in 2004. That’s the same year that voters in many Democratic-leaning neighborhoods stood in line for hours waiting to vote because of too few voting machines at key places. It’s almost impossible to know how many voters found it too burdensome and simply gave up that year.

Pundits will be watching Ohio closely, and PoliticsNation will be keeping a close eye on the Buckeye state too, especially any potential voter suppression.

Buckeye of the storm: Why Ohio voting rights matter

Updated