An unlevel playing field in Ohio

Updated
 

As Rachel explained on the show last night, there’s an ongoing dispute over early-voting rights in Ohio, but the problem does not apply to every part of the state. In Republican-friendly Ohio counties, local officials are making it easier to vote, while in Democratic-friendly Ohio counties, the opportunities will be limited, thanks in part to the efforts of Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted.

The Nation’s Ari Berman had a great piece on this yesterday.

The Romney campaign has recently captured headlines with its absurd and untrue claim that the Obama campaign is trying to suppress the rights of military voters. The real story from Ohio is how cutbacks to early voting will disproportionately disenfranchise African-American voters in Ohio’s most populous counties. African-Americans, who supported Obama over McCain by 95 points in Ohio, comprise 28 percent of the population of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County but accounted for 56 percent of early voters in 2008, according to research done by Norman Robbins of the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates and Mark Salling of Cleveland State University. In Columbus’s Franklin County, African-Americans comprise 20 percent of the population but made up 34 percent of early voters.

Now, in heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo, early voting hours will be limited to 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays beginning on October 1, with no voting at night or during the weekend, when it’s most convenient for working people to vote. Republican election commissioners have blocked Democratic efforts to expand early voting hours in these counties, where the board of elections are split equally between Democratic and Republican members. Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has broken the tie by intervening on behalf of his fellow Republicans.

In one of the nation’s largest and most important battleground states, GOP officials are so eager to rig the game, they’re creating two very voting standards – one for each political party. Welcome to American democracy in the 21st century.

Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office issued a press release yesterday, promising a “major announcement” on Ohio’s elections process this morning. As Rachel explained, “Unless it’s a wild change in course for Ohio Republicans, the right to vote is anthropomorphically bracing itself.”

Update: So what was the major announcement? Husted has made it easier for Ohio voters to fill out a change-of-address form online. He and I define “major” in very different ways.

Ohio

An unlevel playing field in Ohio

Updated