One of the more novel voter suppression techniques being rolled out by conservatives in swing states is what has gone on in Ohio. The Secretary of State, Jon Husted, first tried to mandate that Republican counties would have extended early voting hours, while Democratic counties would see their early voting hours reduced. That generated too much controversy, so he shifted back to a uniform standard. But that standard erred on the side of restricting early voting, with no weekend hours and no hours three days before the election. This has a disproportionate effect on those who have less flexible work schedules, which inevitably means the working class. In particular, the African-American community has favored weekend early voting, especially with drives through local black churches to deliver voters after Sunday services.
Here’s the interesting aftermath: some counties in Ohio are igoring Husted’s directive. They are planning to open for early voting on the weekends.
The (Mahoning County) commissioners voted unanimously to open Oakhill Renaissance Place, where the board of elections is housed, on three October weekends to permit early voting. Their decision defies Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s ban on weekend early voting.
Mahoning County, which includes Youngstown, is a working class, Democratic county. Another Democratic County, Montgomery County, which includes Toledo, plans to offer weekend early voting, even as its Democratic election commissioners have been threatened with expulsion by Jon Husted. Dennis Lieberman, one of the Montgomery County elections board commissioners, said on Rachel Maddow’s show, “We got a letter saying to rescind the motion or be fired. And I refused to rescind the motion.” Husted responded by suspending Lieberman and his counterpart.
It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to rely on civil disobedience from election board members to maximize opportunities to vote, mostly for working-class people and minorities.