You’ve heard about Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law, and about Florida’s massive purge of the rolls. But it looks like the GOP’s list of ways to make it harder to vote—especially for groups likely to vote Democratic—doesn't end there…
The Rachel Maddow Show Thursday night sounded the alarm on the voting situation in the next largest swing state after those other two: Ohio. In 2004, President Bush won the state, and with it the presidency, by just 118,000 votes. But, as Maddow explained, that election was marred by a chronic shortage of polling places in more densely populated, Democratic-leaning areas, forcing many voters to stand in line for hours, and prompting some to give up entirely.
“To the extent that an election is about making it possible for people to vote,” said Maddow. “The ‘04 election in Ohio was an abysmal failure.”
A 2005 Congressional report, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio? (pdf), documented numerous problems with Ohio’s voting system and called for election reform. And in response, Ohio expanded early voting, which helped allow things to go much more smoothly in 2008, when Barack Obama won the state.
But after Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, was elected in 2010, things went in the opposite direction: Kasich and the GOP abolished the last three days of early voting—a period used by fully 100,000 Ohioans to vote in 2008. They also tried to add an ID requirement, and even tried to scrap the rule that poll workers give out accurate information about where to vote.
As Maddow noted, a recent Cincinnati Inquirer investigation found that today, voting “is a fragile exercise for many Ohioans.” Problems with the system, the paper reported, “call into question both whether every Ohioan’s vote will be counted November 6, and whether the state, always pivotal in close presidential races, can assure the nation a timely, accurate, and lawsuit-free count.”
The Obama campaign is suing to restore the last three days of early voting, but it’s far from clear whether it’ll succeed. For now, as Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice, a voting rights group, told Maddow, Ohio is "Florida without the palm trees when it comes to voting."