In a state known for its chaotic elections, early voting stations in Ohio’s Democratic-leaning counties will soon be restricted, while it’s Republican-leaning counties will see their early voting hours expanded. Starting October 1st, voters in Ohio’s urban centers will have early voting stations open from 8am to 5pm. Republican election commissioners blocked Democratic efforts to expand the times to make early voting more accessible for people who work during these times. Republican Secretary of State Jon Usted stepped in to break the tie, deciding in favor of restricting times in these counties, but allowed Republican-leaning counties to expand their hours to nights and weekends.
Early voting restrictions are expected to limit overall access to voting stations. According to the Board of Elections, in Franklin County, for example, 82% of all early voting in 2008 took place on nights and weekends, when it will now no longer be available. Counties where restrictions will go into effect also tend to be largely African American.
Of the restrictions in his county, Cincinnati’s Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “The Republicans remember those long lines outside board of elections last time in the evenings and on weekends. The lines were overwhelmingly African-American, and it’s pretty obvious that the people were predominately – very predominately Obama voters. The Republicans don’t want that to happen again. It’s that simple.”
Media Resources: Think Progress 8/10/12; The Nation 8/8/12