Secretary of State Jon Husted recently issued a press release followed by an email to their list a couple of days later about a neat little “Ready 2012 and Beyond” proposal to – well, get ready for the GOP to do electoral battle against Obama and Democrats in 2012. Duh. The quoted part does seem like a dog whistle to their brethren who will get the message. This isn’t about reforming the elections process to instill voter confidence and increase access. The GOP has proven time and again that they really don’t care much for that. This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem and framing the process in such a way as to make it easier for Republicans to win elections. It’s all very um…well…let’s see…how should we put this? Blackwellian! Yes. It all harkens back to the bitter partisan methods employed by one J. Kenneth Blackwell. Let’s take it section by section, shall we?
On-line Voter Registration and Change of Address
“Secretary Husted is calling for on-line voter registration and for giving registered voters the opportunity to change their address electronically.”
This is actually a great idea…but it should go along with the ability for a voter who say, is poor, and doesn’t have internet access to do the same thing at the polls. The problem with many GOP “election reform” initiatives is they rarely look for opportunities to open up access to the poor. This particular one seems to grease the skids for the better off. Think there’s a reason for that? You bet there is!
“Husted noted that according to an informal survey of the 88 county boards of elections, nearly half of voters were required to cast provisional ballots in the last general election.”
Seriously? Half of voters had to cast provisional ballots? That’s unlikely to impossible. By his own math, 105K provisional ballots were cast in 2010. 3.96M people voted in OH in 2010. That’s um…not…half. That survey is more than informal. It’s untrue!
Improving Casting and Counting of Provisional Ballots
“…in the 2010 election, of the 105,000 provisional ballots cast, 90 percent were counted. Nearly half of the remaining 10 percent were not counted because these individuals were not eligible Ohio voters…it’s the remaining small but important five percent that have caused confusion and controversy.”
Something that is of even greater concern is requiring voters to be in their correct precinct for provisional votes to count. The technology already exists to allow BOEs to count votes in just the races the voters is eligible to vote in. You’ll remember in 2004 Ken Blackwell spent a bunch of HAVA money to get on TV and tell voters to be sure to vote in their correct precinct. In some cases voters were directed by poll workers to the wrong polling location. What Husted plans to do sounds nice and does have the word “technology” in it, but a simpler fix would be to empower the BOEs to count votes of people whether or not they show up in the right place.
More Accurate Statewide Voter Database
“…cross check voter information files against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Ohio Department of Health, Social Security death files, Ohio Department of Job & Family Services and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections.”
Why? How does cross checking against the unemployment lists and Corrections help? Oh, yeah, because you’re looking for people to purge. This sounds like a precursor to Husted and the GOP gearing up for another big voter roll purge. Who might be on an unemployed list or Dept. of Corrections? Poor people. Right. Federal law already requires cross checking BMV and SSA records. Solutions – in search of problems.
Uniform Statewide Early Voting Standards
“all in-person absentee voting would end the Friday before the election.”
Oh, you mean because you wanna make sure that low wage workers who can’t easily get away from work and home to vote during voting hours don’t have the weekend before the election to get that taken care of? Yeah.
“Additionally, county boards of elections would no longer be able to solicit absentee ballot participation by mailing applications to all voters and from paying the return postage on applications or voted ballots.”
This is clearly an attack on the large Democratic counties. Cuyahoga and Franklin did this last year. Cuyahoga and Franklin have lots of Dems. Lets make sure the counties with lots of Dems can’t do anything to increase their turnout. Absentee ballot usage also helps to decrease long lines on election day – lines often seen in urban areas favoring the Democratic Vote. You see the agenda, here? It’s not even hidden well.
“Husted’s proposal would set the window for absentee voting at 21 days by mail and 16 days in-person prior to Election Day.”
Because shortening the early voter period by a week is somehow “improving access”? No. Early vote is perceived to benefit Democrats. In the last November election Democrats gained a clear advantage in early vote, giving Ted Stricklanda a 54,427 vote lead going in to election day. ODP claimed in a post-election email that their early vote program “successfully pushed 111,810 infrequent-voting Democrats to request and return ballots during the 35-day Early Vote period. This is nearly five times the 23,267 infrequent voting Republicans who voted early. In fact, 44% of early voters were Democrats while 31% were Republicans.”
Rollback in the name of uniformity!
Look, most of these “reforms” are essentially little power grabs that allow the Secretary of State to chip away at essential reforms made by previous Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to increase access to the elections process for all Ohioans. There is a 6 year consent decree settlement with the the League of Women Voters that keeps certain reforms in place and Husted’s mitts off them, but we’re gonna have to watch this guy pretty carefully.
I know we are all focused on labor rights, but we shouldn’t allow that to be cover for Jon Husted’s little Blackwellian elections games.