Somewhat buried in the news last week, amidst stories about Ebola and ISIS, was the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on Ohio’s early voting period. The predictable majority sided with Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, allowing him to delay early voting by a week. This first week is known as the “Golden Week” because people can still register to vote in the same period. The extreme Supremes reversed the rulings of lower courts that sided with plaintiffs who claimed this will disproportionately affect African-American voters, many of whom take advantage of early voting.
Ohio officials have failed to offer a compelling reason why the cutbacks in early voting are so important. Why would they spend so much effort on this, taking the fight all the way to the Supreme Court? Two year ago, The Nation reported on a moment of candor from a GOP elections official:
Franklin County (Columbus) GOP Chair Doug Preisse gave a surprisingly blunt answer to the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday: “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine.” Preisse is not some rogue operative but the chairman of the Republican Party in Ohio’s second-largest county and a close adviser to Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Maybe we should take a cue from the protesters in Hong Kong clamoring for democracy and express more outrage at what’s happening to our own.