A battle over early voting hours in Ohio is flaring again after a top adviser to Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, this week made remarks that Democrats cast as racist, and the Republican secretary of state suspended two local election officials who voted to extend balloting hours in one county. Anger over rules on early voting in this presidential battleground state appeared as if it might ease last week when, under pressure from voters’ rights groups, the secretary of state announced that all Ohio counties would follow a uniform policy over the five-week early voting period that begins Oct 2. But tensions have done anything but cool. The new policy excluded weekends, and Democrats have accused the secretary of state, Jon Husted, of trying to scale back voting opportunities in urban areas that had longer voting hours during the last presidential election, when Barack Obama won the state.
A top Ohio Republican Sunday stood by his comment that the state’s voting procedures shouldn’t be “contort[ed] to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.” In an interview with BuzzFeed, Franklin County GOP Chairman Doug Preisse, a close ally of Governor John Kasich, said his comment — which provoked Democratic outrage — was simply straight talk. Democrats “are trying to say that I had somehow consciously constrained hours for that purpose,” Preisse said. “No, I am saying the opposite, that I am asking the question, and I am indeed questioning how far this process of democratic, small ‘d’, democratic voting process should be contorted to favor a political operation. I don’t think we should go overboard in doing that.” Preisse’s comment to today’s Columbus Dispatch were taken as a smoking gun by Democrats and progressives, who said — as one liberal Ohio blogger wrote — that Preisse had acknowledged an effort to “suppress black voters.” Preisse scoffed at the criticism, telling BuzzFeed of a disputed voting plan put forth by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, “I believe it should be easy to vote, and I believe that under this plan it is.
Ohio: Election Official Says Early Voting Process Should Not Accommodate Black Voters | Huffington Post
An Ohio GOP election official who voted against the weekend voting rules that enabled thousands to cast ballots in the 2008 election said Sunday that he did not think that the state’s early voting procedures should accommodate African-Americans. “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” Doug Priesse said in an email to the Columbus Dispatch Sunday. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.”