There was an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer last week that caught my attention. Essentially, there is quite the battle going on in Ohio right now regarding early voting and hours it will be available. The debate has been over what hours polling stations offering early voting should be open. The standard is that polling stations are only open during the week and close promptly at 5:00 PM. However, in order to open access to those who work full-time, polling stations were open later in the evening an on weekends for the 2008 election. This year those extended hours are under attack and are in jeopardy.
Now, it would be one thing if the extended hours were to go away in all Ohio counties. But, because this is 2012, that is not the case. In several Ohio counties extended hours have already been approved. Why? Well Democrats support extended hours in all counties, while Republicans are only supportive in areas that are likely to vote Republican. Given that each the Board of Elections in each county has 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, that has led to a 4-0 vote for in the likely Republican counties and a 2-2 tie in the likely Democratic counties. When there is a tie the Secretary of State, Republican Jon Husted, breaks it. Again, because this is 2012, he has aligned chosen short-term political gain over what is right and just. The effect is that only certain counties will have early voting and others will not.
While it is true that, for those who can’t get out of work to vote, there are other options (absentee ballots), the fact remains that, in Ohio, the elections will not be fairly contested. We can debate the merits of early voting and extended hours all we want, but that is not the issue here. The issue here is that certain members of one party are doing everything they can to suppress the votes they don’t like and encourage the ones they do. And that, my friends, is beyond shameful. And, to say it is about money, as Husted has, is just a blatantly dishonest statement designed to pull the wool over the eyes of American citizens. It’s a lie and he knows it.
You know what I’d love? Let’s have international observers come monitor OUR elections and give a report. Different rules applying to different places based on the expected results would be decried anywhere else in the world. Results would be challenged and Anderson Cooper would be on the scene creepily quickly. However, at home, we simply accept it and say, as chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party Alex Triantafilou did, “there will be plenty of hours to vote early.” So, essentially, it may not be fair, but figure it out. That is not the way our Democracy is supposed to work and not why so many groups, who Husted, Triantafilou, and others are working to suppress, have struggled for years for the right to cast their vote.