The ink is barely dry on the report from President Obama’s election administration commission and states are already disregarding its blue-ribbon recommendations, namely around early voting. The endorsement of expanding the voting period before Election Day was one of the strongest components of the bipartisan commission’s report. But yesterday Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted released a new voting schedule that deletes both pre-Election Day Sundays from the early voting formula. Under the new rules, people can vote in the four weeks before Election Day, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on the final two Saturdays before Election Day. The Sunday erasures come in conflict with the “souls to the polls” black church-led campaigns to take their congregants to vote after worship services. When Husted dropped Sunday from the early voting period in 2012 it landed him in court, where a federal judge ultimately forced him to reinstate Sunday voting. In 2008, over 77 percent of people who voted early in Ohio were African-American.
This time around, Husted took his policy cue from the Ohio Association of Election Officials, a bipartisan group of county election supervisors. In 2012, one of those officials, Doug Priesse, who headed the Franklin County Republican Party at the time, said he opposed early voting because it helped black voters access their ballots.
The Ohio legislature adopted in-person absentee voting in 2005 in response to Ohio’s seven-hour lines during the 2004 presidential election—the longest in the country. Since its implementation, an increasing number of Ohio voters have taken advantage of early voting each year. In 2012, 600,000 Ohioans—20 percent of the electorate—voted early, and in Cuyahoga County, 41 percent of voters voted early. Many of those voters were voters of color, as Cuyahoga County is nearly 30 percent African-American and nearly five percent Latino.
Full Article: The War Against Early Voting Heats Up.