With more than a little guile, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted looks straight into the camera and claims he’s just following the law. He did his darndest for Ohio voters, by golly, and look – Ohio didn’t end up like Florida! Everything’s cool right? Hardly. IO anlaysis showed that during Husted’s term, and certainly during this latest election season, voter rights, voter access in Ohio have been under fire. Even days after the election, Husted is still a target of criticism in the national media. Here at IO, we don’t think Husted is a racist. Let’s make that clear. We do believe that there was only one reason for him to fight tooth and nail to prevent in-person absentee voting during the last weekend of the election. The reason was to suppress the African American vote in Ohio – to keep those souls from visiting the polls. In 2008, blacks were 11% of Ohio’s electorate and voted 97% for Barack Obama. In this past election, exit polls show that blacks voted 95% for Obama in Ohio – but made up 15% of the electorate. That’s plus 4 folks – in a year where the stakes couldn’t have been higher and overall turnout didn’t match 2012. For the Obama campaign to grow a segment of its electorate in Ohio last Tuesday was a big deal. For it to be a segment that voted nearly exclusively for the president is huge. The GOP battleground state vote suppression machine rolled into Columbus and Husted, the partisan climbed aboard – he knew the stakes. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, issued an open letter to Husted on her program this past Saturday. She’s not buying Husted’s protestations that everything worked out well in the end:Then there’s Brian McFadden’s current affairs cartoon, The Strip, from yesterday’s New York Times. His tongue in cheek take on the voting process in America ends with the pane to the left. Incredible. Of all the suppression efforts taken up by right wingers this past cycle, Husted is the exemplar. Kind of embarassing Ohioans? Just what we need, the rest of the country thinking we’re all in line behind the Dear Leader whistling Dixie. Let’s end on a positive note, though, because we live in a forgiving society where there exists the possibility of rehabilitation. After all, before partisan fever really took hold during the GOP presidential primary race, Husted had shown some inclination to work across the aisle and put people before party. In an article in the Nov. 9 Columbus Dispatch, Husted implored his fellow travelers to give the Ohio people fair electoral maps. Jon Husted believes in redistricting reform (according to Jon Husted):
“Let’s find some common ground here,” Husted said during a panel discussion at the Impact Ohio post-election conference. “If it’s about doing what’s best for turnout models for each political party, then we can’t. This is not hard, folks.” … “Let’s stop trying to write tricks into the code about provisional ballots,” he said. “Let’s clean it up, start over and get it right. If you write a good law on a bipartisan basis, it will be fine. It’s not hard. You just have to want to do it.”Yes, Mr. Secretary! Now, you’re talking. Please lead, sir. No tricks, bipartisan basis, it’s not hard. Sold. If Jon Husted made bipartisan re-districting reform in Ohio his issue – if he worked tirelessly on behalf of such an effort – he could probably be forgiven for all the legal challenges to more open voter access this past several months. We could chalk it up to temporary political insanity. If Jon Husted is just blowing smoke in a transparent and shallow attempt to get beyond the criticism he’s been under, well then, I don’t think Ohioans will forget this past election season.
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