On Monday afternoon the Supreme Court justices decided 5-4, on party (of-the-president-who nominated-them) lines, to block extended voting hours and days in Ohio, 16 hours before voting was to begin there. The decision affects everyone in the state but will disproportionately harm poorer and minority voters, who rely on weekend and evening hours to avoid forbiddingly long lines on Election Day. The court’s order is technically temporary, but in practice it means that the longer voting hours won’t be in effect in 2014. There are reasonable arguments to be made about why these particular restrictions are not the most burdensome in the country, since Ohio already has four weeks of early voting. Still, the plaintiffs made the argument — accepted by a federal trial court and a three-judge appeals panel — that the cuts violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the battered-but-still-standing Voting Rights Act.
In case anyone is lulled into thinking this is about anything other than politics and race, here is a brief refresher, in the form of recent quotes from players on the ground in Ohio and Georgia, another state where Republicans are fighting to keep the electorate as small and white as possible:
“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine. Let’s be fair and reasonable.” — Doug Preisse, chairman of the Franklin County, Ohio Republican Party and elections board member, August 2012