chance to extend early voting hours to increase
turnout. But he chose otherwise.
The four-member boards are divided equally between Democratic and Republican members, with tie votes broken by the Secretary of State. Democratic board members had voted, in most cases, to extend early voting hours in all counties, but Republicans had approved them in Republican counties and voted against them in Democratic counties. Husted had voted with the Republicans when needed for them to block extended hours.
The results? Less affluent counties with large African American and other minority populations that vote heavily Democratic were stuck with early-voting hours that made it more difficult for their working-class voters to cast ballots. Wealthier, whiter suburban and rural counties set longer hours even though, by the nature of their jobs and general economic situation, people already find it easier to get to the polls. In the four urban counties, the vote margin for Barack Obama in 2008 was 490,000. In the suburban counties, the vote margin for John McCain was 87,000. The intent behind keeping early voting hours minimal in the Democratic counties was perfectly clear.
Husted's standards even things out. But instead of doing the right thing and expanding hours in the urban counties to match those of the suburban and rural ones, he has set the hours the same everywhere, at a lower level. That eliminates the Jim Crow aspects, to be sure. It doesn't, however, provide the extra hours that would draw more voters to the polls in the urban districts. For one thing, no weekend voting and very little evening voting. That is nonsensical. Establishing early voting schedules ought to start with weekends and evenings. Beginning Oct. 2:
For the first three weeks of this period, board of elections will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. During the last two weeks, they will remain open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will be no weekend hours and the exceptions to these rules will be Tuesday, Oct. 9, when the board are already required to remain open to accommodate a 9 p.m. deadline for voter registration. And offices will closed on Columbus Day. On the final Friday before the election, the offices will close at 6 p.m.Unlike in the last presidential election, there will be no voting on the Saturday, Sunday or Monday right before the election. That's not Husted's doing. But he is no doubt happy with it. The GOP-dominated state legislature made the rule. On those three early-voting days in 2008, particularly that Sunday, tens of thousands of voters turned out, many of them African Americans on their way home from church where they had been urged to be sure and take advantage of their hard-fought right to vote.
That was never on Husted's agenda. Instead of setting a uniform standard that would have brought out a maximum number of voters, he has chosen to maintain one that puts an obstacle in the path of some people who would vote if, say, they could do it on a weekend or evening. Those people just happen to be voters who cast more Democratic ballots than Republican ones. Sheer partisanship on Husted's part. But a bit better concealed.