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Former Ohio governor on sketchy voter laws: GOP is afraid of the American voter

As Election Day draws ever-near, The Rachel Maddow Show is doggedly following what Rachel Maddow calls “shady new Republican election laws in swing states.”

On Friday, she started with a shout out to “a civic geek’s dream come true,” Pennsylvania’s Voter Hall of Fame, where people who have voted in 50 consecutive elections are inducted in honor of their commitment to democracy.

Now, the Keystone State is poised to deliberately disenfranchise approximately 25% of those Hall of Fame Super Voters (and 10% of all voters). More than 758,000 registered voters in PA don’t have the photo identification card needed to vote in November.

Lean Forward went to Philadelphia and asked a 101-year-old Pennsylvanian how she’d feel if she couldn’t vote. 

“I’d feel very badly, because I know we’ve come a long way...from when we could not vote. See, I remember when black folks did not vote,” she told him.

And in that vein, Maddow says we need to talk about the “partisan disaster” in Ohio. Namely, the fact that in Ohio, it’s easier to vote in a Republican-leaning county than in a Democratic one.

“I find hard to believe this is not front page news all over the country,” she said. Maddow spoke to Ted Strickland, the former Democratic governor of Ohio about the controversial laws that allow early voting on nights and weekends in some counties but not others.

Maddow asked Strickland, the co-chairman of Obama’s reelection efforts, if this unethical system is a done deal or if it stands a chance of being normalized. He thanked her for the chance to address this touchy issue in his state:

“The fact is, Rachel, I think it’s become very clear as we’ve watched what’s happened here in Ohio and in Pennsylvania, and Florida and Iowa and elsewhere that the national leadership of the Republican Party is afraid of the American voter and they are doing whatever they can to limit voting among those who are the most vulnerable. I’m talking about our minority population, our older citizens, our student population. And when the secretary of state says that we have standards, those standards ought to be consistent standards... some counties are going to allow expanded voting hours and other counties will not be able to have that privilege. And as it turns out, in the Democratic-leaning counties those hours will be restricted and in Republican-leaning counties those hours will be expanded and that is unfair. It’s something that could possibly affect the election in Ohio."

Maddow also asked Strickland if he anticipates the Obama campaign taking legal action to rectify this mess. He said yes—to a point:

“This issue has just recently surfaced.  The Cincinnati Enquirer has done some stories about it and I think Ohioans are only now becoming aware that this disparity is going to exist. We all know about, obviously, the prohibition on voting during those last weekend days before the election, and 4 years ago, about 95,000 people voted during those 3 days. And so they’ve limited that, and the Obama administration with the Ohio Democratic Party has brought suit to try to get that changed. But this issue about having inconsistent voting hours and opportunities from one county to another has only recently entered the public awareness. So we’ll just have to see how this plays out as more and more people become aware of this terrible situation.” 

Terrible situation, yes. But Strickland said he’s confident the pro-Obama forces in the state are strong enough to counter the Republicans’ extreme efforts by working “from daylight to way past dark” to bring home a strong voter turnout.