As an Ohioan I recognize the naked partisan objectives of Secretary of State John Husted in limiting early voting hours in this state. I see his intention to limit participation from minorities, the working poor, and other Democratic-leaning constituencies. I understand the math behind his motives. Thankfully, I can see in the election results how those motives backfired.
Having said that, even with Mr. Husted’s statewide reduction of early voting hours Ohioans clearly demonstrated that they had time to vote. People showed up and stood in line for hours on end in the last few days of the election. They did so in many cases as a direct protest to Husted’s restriction.
The story of the 2012 election should not simply be that the lines existed. Some emphasis has to be granted to the fact that those who waited out the line were able to vote – the same cannot be said of the 2000 and 2004 elections in this state.
Additional emphasis must also be given to the fact that the people standing in those lines put themselves in that place.
The Ohio Secretary of State issued absentee ballot applications to every single registered voter in the State of Ohio nearly two months prior to November 6th. The Secretary of State cut voting hours, but nearly 1.8 million people still made time to vote early.
If you were a non-undecided voter standing in line on Election Day, or during the weekend before the election, then I’m sorry but you put yourself there. If you are a registered Republican or registered Democrat then you should vote early. If you are concerned about the early voting lines the week before the election then you should vote two weeks before the election.
If you are an informed voter who isn’t going to be swayed by the rhetoric of rehearsed responses during presidential debates then you should vote on the first early voting day – that was October 2nd in Ohio, the day before the first presidential debate.
Originally Mr. Husted attempted to cut early voting days. In 2008 tens of thousands of votes were cast for Democrats, and for then-Senator Barack Obama, during the week before Election Day. Mr. Husted then tried to keep everyone other than overseas and military voters, which lean toward Republicans, from voting. He then settled to simply limit the number of early voting hours.
I realize that this was an entirely nefarious and mal-intentioned Republican voter suppression mechanism.
However, I also realize that procrastination is not a good excuse. Across the United States churches took part in an initiative called “Souls to the Polls”, where on the Sunday before November 6th churchgoers carpooled to their local early voting location. Why wait until two days before the last day of voting? Why not take those souls to those polls in October and avoid all worry?
If you stood in line this year, remember that in 2014 and 2016. Cast your ballot against the men and women responsible for limiting voting opportunities. Also, cast that ballot a week earlier.
Early voting lines in Ohio were terrible. The lines in Florida were even worse. But it should never be forgotten or ignored that procrastination was partly at fault.
Ohio had five weeks of early voting and mailed out absentee ballot applications to every single registered voter. Even with Husted’s voter suppression efforts, his state ought to be the example to be built upon by every state in 2016. Universal absentee ballot applications and five weeks of early voting? I’ll take that every single time.
Obama had my vote in 2012 the moment John Huntsman dropped out of the Republican race. I mailed in my ballot on October 21st after spending two hours reviewing every candidate and issue from my couch.
Some of the argument against mail-in voting in Ohio has been the cost: $0.65. How much money does it cost to lose a full day of work standing in a line? The average Ohio worker makes nearly $100/day. How much does the babysitter cost the Sunday before Election Day? It is worth two postage stamps.
Next time; vote earlier.