6:40pm August 23, 2012

#Voice Your Vote: The Black Vote – All Eyes on Ohio


Here we go again. The Buckeye State must really love all this attention every four years, because that state is up to it again. While the black vote is not a “swing” vote, because Ohio officials have gone out of their way to disrupt voting for minorities, the Ohio Black vote is being fought over like never before.

In Ohio in 2004, minority precincts had fewer voting machines than non-minority precincts. The Secretary of State at the time, Republican Ken Blackwell passed new rules that it “difficult for small churches and other nonprofit organizations to hire and train voter registration workers.” There is no doubt that thousands of students and minorities in Ohio wanted to vote but could not wait up to 10 hours to vote.

How is Ohio rectifying the problem?

That is the wrong question. You should ask how the state is making the problem worse.

First, the state passed a law that limited early voting. In 2008, Black voters, fearful of a 2004 reenactment of long voting lines, chose to Early Vote in record numbers. As a result, the GOP dominated legislature decided to cut back on Early Voting opportunities by not allowing people to early vote the Sunday before the election. Republican motives were very clear. The GOP wanted to limit the successful “Souls to the Polls” program run through Black churches.

Republicans are not running away from these allegations either. In fact, one Republican election official, Doug Preisse wrote the Columbus Dispatch a letter, which, in part reads: “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine.” Republicans freely admit that their purpose runs against history.

The right side of history is that America has slowly, but surely, expanded voting rights. Initially, it was just land-owning white males. Over time, as America actually began to live up to its democratic principles, all white males earned the right to vote, then Black males (kind of, unless you lived in the South), then women, then finally Blacks got the right to vote (for real this time in 1965). That is the right side of history.

Some Ohio counties are fighting back and refuse to become anti-democratic organs of the Republican Party. These counties are bravely defying their Secretary of State, John Husted, and “will open for early voting on the weekends.”

Preisse and other Republicans will fight history, but only voters, especially Black voters in Ohio can make Republican efforts to suppress the vote irrelevant. How? First, as I wrote earlier, don’t be a “stay-at-home” voter; instead, you must #Voice Your Vote.

About the Author

Marvin King
Marvin King
Marvin King received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Texas and his B.A. from the University of Texas. Now, he is an Associate Professor of Political Science with a joint appointment in the African American Studies Program at the University of Mississippi. He conducts research into how political institutions affect African American politics. Marvin is available for public speaking engagements and you can follow him on Twitter @kingpolitics



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