Open Elections Defended by US Supreme Court

This whole story is pretty upsetting to me, but thankfully the US Supreme Court came down on the side of voting access. I firmly believe that voting should be as easy as possible for citizens of this country to vote, as voting is the cornerstone of a democratic system. Apparently the GOP in Ohio don’t agree with this concept (from BusinessWeek):

The state’s Republican leadership, through a combination of legislation and a legal interpretation by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, sought to make a statewide change for this year and allow voting [the weekend before Nov. 6] only by military members, who historically favor Republican candidates.

It’s important to note this law, and Secretary Husted’s interpretation happened AFTER the 2008 election. A Ohio voter advocacy group noted that minorities are the most likely (pdf) to vote on the weekend before Election Day, groups that tend to vote for the Democrats. Both these points were noted by the Court of Appeals that originally blocked the Ohio law:

Early voting in Ohio is used heavily by blacks, women, the elderly and low-income people, according to the appeals court.

In Franklin County, Ohio’s second-largest and home to Columbus, almost 18 percent of all in-person absentee votes in 2008 were cast during the three days before the election, and Democrats outnumbered Republicans almost 4-to-1, data provided by the county elections board shows.

Now we all know you can’t pass a law intended to disenfranchise certain types of voters, or to hurt the electoral chances of a party by saying those are the reasons. So what was Secretary Husted’s reasoning? He wanted to ensure that election administrators had enough time to prepare, and didn’t want them to be overloaded before Election Day. Here’s the funny thing, administrators in his own state said it was easier for them to allow early voting that weekend (from Huffington Post):

The ruling questioned Ohio’s stated motivation, noting that the lower court heard evidence to the contrary. “Ohio’s most populous county, Cuyahoga County, asserted that maintaining in-person early voting would actually alleviate some of its burden by spreading out the demand for voting over more days, thus reducing lines and wait times at polling places on Election Day.”

It’s disgusting to me that there are people in government who work to limit the ability of citizens to vote. These are the same people who have tried to keep Gary Johnson off of the ballot due to fears of “vote siphoning”. Maybe if you governed better, or promoted policies the people wanted you wouldn’t have to resort to these tactics. If the only way you can win an election is by rigging it in your favor, then you don’t deserve to be in office.


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