Herald-Leader Editorial

Shameful attacks on voting rights

Purges, laws target Obama supporters

October 3, 2012 

Vigilante-style efforts to strip some Ohio residents of their right to vote are an outgrowth of the wave of laws and restrictions enacted by Republicans to make voting harder.

Tea Party groups have attempted to purge at least 2,100 Buckeye voters for such reasons as not listing their dormitory room numbers on voter registration forms.

In addition to college students, The Los Angeles Times reports, the names selected for purging include trailer-park residents, homeless people and blacks in counties that President Barack Obama carried four years ago.

A black family of eight who live just outside Cincinnati received a letter saying their voter registration had been challenged. A Tea Party member said their address appeared on a list of vacant lots; in fact, the address is on the family's house.

Another woman's right to vote was challenged because the apartment building where she lives is listed as commercial property.

With the exception of voters who have died and some who lived in a trailer park that has closed, most of the challenges have been denied.

Still, it's worth pondering why some people are searching out technicalities to disenfranchise their fellow citizens.

The challenges are coming from a coalition that calls itself the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which is an offshoot of a Texas organization called True the Vote.

Members would say their goal is clean elections. But clearly the intent is to suppress the votes of those with whom they disagree.

Ohio Republicans also are trying to stop voting the weekend before the election.

An important presidential swing state, Ohio expanded early voting after being embarrassed by the long lines when polls closed in 2000 and 2004.

Democrats have said 93,000 Ohioans voted on the weekend before the 2008 election. Whether they will be able to do that again next month rests with a federal court.

Franklin County GOP chairman Doug Preisse made his party's motive plain when he said: "We shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine."

Americans, especially women and blacks, have sacrificed mightily to secure the right to vote. And American blood has been spilled around the world defending democracy.

A state judge on Tuesday halted enforcement of a new voter identification requirement in Pennsylvania saying there wasn't enough time to comply. Earlier a federal judge overturned Texas' restrictive voter ID law, saying it violated the Voting Rights Act.

Despite the court decisions, the right to vote remains under siege.

Those who seek to intimidate and disenfranchise may be using paperwork and computer databases rather than Klan robes and guns.

But the intent is the same.

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