The Republican-controlled Ohio state legislature voted in December to block early voting during the entire week before Election Day. And their efforts to stop people from voting don’t end there.
“The Senate also passed a bill preventing the secretary of state or individual counties from mailing absentee ballots to all eligible voters unless the legislature provides the money, which they are unlikely to do,” according to The Nation.
Efforts to limit access to the polls was originally sold to the American public as a way to prevent voter fraud. However, voter fraud in Ohio is virtually nonexistent.
During the 2012 elections, there were 5.63 million votes cast in Ohio. Out of that total, there were only 135 possible cases of voter fraud.
New strict voter ID laws, the elimination of same-day registration and early voting cuts may do nothing to stop the tiny percentage of potential voter fraud, but it does threaten the voting rights of nearly 2 million legitimate voters.
Ari Berman writes in The Nation, “These restrictions—and additional measures being considered by the legislature—have the potential to impact millions of voters in the Buckeye State: 600,000 Ohioans voted early in 2012, more than 10 percent of the state’s electorate, and 1.25 million voted by mail, 22 percent of the electorate.”
In 2012, Ohio voters faced long lines at polling places. But rather than take steps to streamline the voting process, some places like Licking County, decided to close nearly half of all their polling places.
Considering the lack of evidence for significant voter fraud, how can Ohio Republicans justify all they are doing to make it harder for legitimate voters to vote?
Voting it the most fundamental right in a democracy and blocking access to the polls by either party should be looked at as an attempt to rig elections. If any changes to voting laws are made, they should be geared toward getting more people to participate in voting – not less.
Ohio Republicans cannot say they honor the Constitution while stripping citizens of their voting rights.