The Hamilton County Republican Party, backstopped by Secretary of State Jon Husted, continues its single-minded focus on disenfranchising African-American voters

Husted, who drew national attention for his iron-fisted approach toward making it as hard as possible for African-Americans to vote early,  will likely break an upcoming tie vote in the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Husted did the same thing in 2012 to keep the Board of Elections closed, and to prevent vote-by-mail applications from being sent. Foiled by the Voting Rights Act, Husted seems to have concocted a new scheme: move the Hamilton County Board of Elections to the burbs.

OK, technically the old Mercy Mount Airy Hospital—the proposed new location of the Hamilton County Board of Elections—lies directly on the Cincinnati side of the border with Colerain Township (87% white). It’s 9.4 miles from the current Board of Elections site downtown.

More importantly, there’s only one bus that runs to that location, and the closest stop is a quarter mile from the office. Most voters who can’t drive will face a 3-hour round trip commute to the county’s only early voting site, which will require a transfer at the transit center 4 blocks from the current early voting site. It’s also a more expensive ticket, which is effectively a poll tax.

Additionally, the current early voting site is within walking distance for the vast majority of Cincinnati’s domestic violence and temporary homeless shelters. Early voting would, for these individuals, effectively be impossible.

To make matters most insulting, even the nominal reason for the move is brazenly partisan. The county needs a new crime lab, but a crime lab will be used by the Democratic coroner and the Democratic sheriff. Mercy Mount Airy has offered its location for that purpose, but the Republican-dominated county commission is refusing to allow the move unless the Board of Elections is moved as well.

This is brazen vote suppression of the same sort practiced under Jim Crow. Many people claim that Jon Husted isn’t a white supremacist, but his administrative record is functionally identical.

 

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