Ohio Continues to Be Ground Zero in the Republican War on Voting

There’s something seriously wrong with a party that wants to make it more difficult to vote, but easier to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle. That’s today’s Republican Party. Cloaked in tri-corner hats and patriotic bumper stickers, the GOP has been endeavoring to restrict the free exercise of our most basic duty as citizens of a representative democracy.

They’re not just blocking the expansion of voting hours while needlessly passing Voter ID laws, they’re actively rolling back early voting, while making it more difficult to successfully cast absentee ballots. And in Ohio, there’s been an especially fierce ongoing war on voting, helmed by Gov. John Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted, both Republicans.

Kasich just signed two laws that would make it more difficult for urban, elderly and military voters to cast ballots.

Senate Bill 238

This law, sponsored by a Republican naturally, narrows the window for voting by absentee ballot to 29 days, down from 35.

Senate Bill 205

Also sponsored by a Republican, this law not only makes it more difficult to cast a valid absentee ballot by adding more qualifications for a ballot to be counted, but it also mandates that only the Secretary of State can mail absentee ballots to voters in bulk, and only during even-numbered years.

State representative Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) said, “The new rules will likely lead to an increase in the number of overseas military ballots that are thrown out for minor paperwork errors. This is unconscionable, inexcusable and likely illegal under the voting rights acts.”

Meanwhile, Husted was the tie-breaking vote in a measure that moved the downtown Cincinnati Board of Elections office ten miles outside of the city, making it more difficult for urban residents without transportation to register to vote.

And all of this is being done under the ludicrous banner of voter fraud. In Ohio during the 2012 election, 5.6 million votes were cast, and according to Husted’s own investigation just 20 might have been fraudulent. Might have been. So why, exactly, are they doing this? The obvious answer is in the results: even beyond the disenfranchisement of Democratic voters, the Republican Party has always benefited when fewer people vote, as explained by religious right founder Paul Weyrich:

“Our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.” And there it is.

Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Salon.com. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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