The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's appeal of lower court's ruling that the state's early voting on the three days before election cannot rescinded. Which, in a just world should have meant opening the polls for the same number of hours as in the past two elections. But Husted, ever eager to do all he can to suppress the vote in areas where early voting has typically drawn out large numbers of Democrats, chose to do what he has done all year. Ari Berman writes:
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted swiftly limited early voting hours on those crucial three days to 8 am–2 pm on Saturday, November 3; 1–5 pm on Sunday, November 4; and 8 am–2 pm on Monday, November 5. That means Ohio voters will have a total of only sixteen hours to cast a ballot during those three days. And before the weekend before the election, Ohio voters will still not be able to cast a ballot in-person on nights or weekends.Nonetheless, those abbreviated early voting hours are more than would have been available if the courts hadn't slapped Husted down. The long-term solution is putting someone else in his job.
In 2008, the most populous counties in Ohio allowed more time for early voting—both in terms of days (thirty-five) and hours (on nights and weekends in many places). For the three days before the election, early voting locations were open for a total of twenty-four hours in Columbus’s Franklin County (8-5 on Saturday, 1-5 on Sunday and 8-7 on Monday) and 18 and a half hours in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County (9-1 on Saturday, 1-5 on Sunday, 8:30-7 pm on Monday). During those final three pre-election days in 2008, 148,000 votes were cast and “wait times stretched 2 1/2 hours,” reported the Columbus Dispatch
(Please continue reading about the War on Voting below the fold.)
In other War on Voting news
A Pennsylvania man employed by a company working for the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested by investigators from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office on Thursday and charged with destroying voter registration forms.The Los Angeles Times reports that Small previously worked with Strategic Allied Consulting. That company was fired by the Florida Republican Party, four other state Republican parties and the Republican National Committee, because more than 100 apparently fraudulent voter registration forms connected to SAC had shown up in 10 Florida counties.
Colin Small, a 31-year-old resident of Phoenixville, Pa., worked for Pinpoint, a company hired to register voters on behalf of the Republican Party of Virginia. Prosecutors charged him with four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of failing to disclose voter registration applications and one count of obstruction of justice.
Small was on the SAC payroll until they were fired. He was working in the Virginia GOP's Harrisonburg office. That is also the Virginia headquarters of Crossroads GPS, an operation co-founded and "advised" by Karl Rove.
- National Baptist voter push criticized as mediocre: There was a lot of talk about the importance of the vote at the National Baptist Convention in September, but critics lambasted it as being nothing more than "rhetoric" and for not coming up with a unified approach to getting people to the polls.
- Department of Justice prepared to receive election complaints: Civil Rights Division staff will be available by phone to receive complaints related to ballot access (1-800-253-3931 toll free or 202-307-2767) or by TTY (1-877-267-8971). Individuals may also report complaints, problems, or concerns related to voting by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to email@example.com and, closer to election day, by complaint forms that may be submitted through a link on the department’s website, at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/
- Elijah Cummings confronts anti-vote-fraud group: The ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee has sent two letters to a right-wing voter-fraud organization asking for “specific documents about the manner in which True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands of voters across the country based on insufficient, inaccurate and faulty evidence.”
“On October 12, 2012, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights issued a report concluding that True the Vote’s poll monitoring efforts in North Carolina appear to be aimed at African American and other minority communities that historically have voted for Democratic candidates,” Cummings wrote. “According to the author, the information in the report demonstrates that your organization has a ‘highly partisan and political agenda to deny African Americans and Latinos, specifically, the right to vote.’”The New York Times has investigated True the Vote's work as has Demos, both discovering instances of voter intimidation. From Demos:
In the June 2012 Wisconsin recall election, many students reported being challenged by True the Vote poll watchers, as the organization even mocked the students on Twitter. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board issued a statement saying “in recent elections we have received disturbing reports and complaints about unacceptable, illegal behavior by observers. Voters expect a calm setting in which to exercise their right to vote.”Jumoke Balogun reports that, based on previous reports of True the Vote's intimidating voters and other actions that suppress the vote, SEIU has sent a letter to the IRS urging the agency to turn down True the Vote's application for 501(c)(3) status (which would give it tax-exempt status. You can read the full letter here.
- Maricopa County Elections Department admits error on date of general election on voter ID cards: The department distributed a document with voter-ID cards in which the date of the election in English was correctly stated as "November 6th," but in Spanish it said "8 de Noviembre, the 8th of November." A spokesperson said that only people who picked up the document over the counter, not by mail, saw the mistaken date. The department indicated this was no big deal and probably only affected some 50 people based on how many documents were passed out in previous years. But it was not stated whether those previous years were election years.
- Union lawyers caution over voter suppression at the polls: Billboards mostly in minority neighborhoods of Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin warning of penalties for voter fraud are among several methods of voter suppression still ongoing after courts rulings and other legal actions have blocked voter-ID laws in several states. The billboards have been challenged as being intimidatory and sowing confusion, which is a key ingredient of voter suppression.
Irwin Aronson, voter protection lawyer in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a long time union laborer. Several public utilities in the state have been sending out newsletters to their customers that were printed prior to the law being enjoined telling customers that they must have a valid photo ID in order to be permitted to vote, Aronson claimed. One of those cases was the utility company PECO that admitted on Oct 17 of sending faulty Voter ID information to 1.3 million customers in seven Pennsylvania counties.
“The reality is that Pennsylvania has just a hair under 10,000 precincts staffed by volunteers, which may or may not choose to participate in the training that’s available to them and as a result we might see confusion on the part of poll workers,” Aronson said.
- Pennsylvania billboards still suggest ID required to vote: As late as this week, state-sponsored, Spanish-language billboards in Philadelphia were informing citizens that they must show ID to vote. One highlighted by Bloomberg stated “Si Quieres Votar Muéstrala” (If you want to vote, show it), with a woman holding up a driver's license.
“You want to be sure all voters are getting an accurate message, a consistent message,” said Ellen Kaplan, policy director at the Committee of Seventy, a non-profit government watchdog group in Philadelphia.
“The worst problem in this case might be if voters still believe they need a photo ID to vote, and if they don’t have one, they may say, ‘I may as well not go to the polling place.’ ”
••• ••• •••
- My Voter ID awakening by Jeremiah Goulka:
As a former Republican, the laws seemed like common sense. Now I see their insidious racial underpinnings.
- Storm’s a brewing for women at the polls by Cortelyou Kenney
- Republicans tied to voter fraud, by Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
- Fairfax, Virginia, Democrats worry GOP might taint vote process by Robert McCartney.