On "Contorting" the Voting Process
You may have followed the Ohio voting business last week while I was away. Basically, the counties of Ohio have these election boards consisting of two commissioners from each major party. These boards were considering the question of early voting.
The proposal on the table involved longer days and hours for early voting. In the counties that John McCain had won, all four commissioners from both parties voted yes. I mean, sure; expand the franchise, right? But in the counties Obama had won, the Republicans voted against expansion, resulting in 2-2 ties, resulting in shorter and more constricted early voting rules.
There could hardly be a more perfect emblem of each side's attitude toward this allegedly sacred right of citizenship. The Democrats agreed to extend voting even in areas where they knew they'd lose, while the Republicans voted completely politically, to deny making voting easier to people who'd vote against it. That's the difference in a nutshell right there.
The Democratic principle is clear. Encourage voting. What "principle" could possible animate the Republican view? Pretty much only this one, as expressed by Franklin County (Columbus) GOP chair Doug Preisse in an email to the Columbus Dispatch:
“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine. Let’s be fair and reasonable.”
What a comment. Imagine if the Democratic chairman of one of the Republican counties had said, "I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the rural--read old and white--voter-turnout machine." That one sentence would become so infamous that it would probably cost Obama Ohio, and maybe even the election.
But Preisse can say this and it's just oh, those Republicans, what can you do? Anyway, the secretary of state leveled out the playing field, so the whole state will be voting under the same sets of rules. But he did nix weekend hours, which still has some folks concerned.