'via Blog this'
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has directed all 88 of the state's counties to follow the same early voting schedule. As reported previously, the election boards of Republican-dominated counties had extended their early voting hours in October to evenings and weekends while Democratic counties had had their efforts to extend early voting blocked.
The four-member boards are divided equally between Democratic and Republican members, with tie votes broken by the Secretary of State. Democratic board members had voted, in most cases, to extend early voting hours in all counties, but Republicans had approved them in Republican counties and voted against them in Democratic counties. Husted had voted with the Republicans when needed for them to block extended hours.
The results? Less affluent counties with large African American and other minority populations that vote heavily Democratic were stuck with early-voting hours that made it more difficult for their working-class voters to cast ballots. Wealthier, whiter suburban and rural counties set longer hours even though, by the nature of their jobs and general economic situation, people already find it easier to get to the polls. In the four urban counties, the vote margin for Barack Obama in 2008 was 490,000. In the suburban counties, the vote margin for John McCain was 87,000. The intent behind keeping early voting hours minimal in the Democratic counties was perfectly clear.
Husted's standards even things out. But instead of doing the right thing and expanding hours in the urban counties to match those of the suburban and rural ones, he has set the hours the same everywhere, at a lower level. That eliminates the Jim Crow aspects, to be sure. It doesn't, however, provide the extra hours that would draw more voters to the polls in the urban districts. For one thing, no weekend voting and very little evening voting. That is nonsensical. Establishing early voting schedules ought to start with weekends and evenings.