If Ohio keeps in place its new restrictions on early voting in counties that lean Democratic, one state lawmaker says it will be as if "Jim Crow has been resurrected in this country."
In Cleveland, Columbus, and Akron, all predominantly Democratic, early voting hours on weekdays will be limited to 8am to 5pm after Republican election commissioners and GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted teamed up to block Democratic efforts to expand the hours. By contrast, GOP commissioners in Republican counties, along with their Democratic counterparts, supported extended hours—meaning voting hours will be extended in only those counties.
This comes on top of a successful GOP effort to scrap the last three days of early voting statewide, a period when almost 100,000 people voted last time around.
Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner (D) said on The Ed Show Thursday that "people are outraged," adding that "no one should have to beg to vote, and that is exactly what is happening in Ohio in the predominantly urban areas."
"It is absolutely shameful that Jim Crow has been resurrected in this country," Turner continued, "particularly in the state of Ohio. He has packed his bags and he has moved north. He is in Ohio, he's in Pennsylvania, he's making repeat performances in Florida."
The restrictions are expected to disproportionately affect African-American voters, who tend to turn out in high numbers for early voting, as well as working class voters in general, who can find it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day.
Republicans in the state have said that they cut the hours to save money. But Ari Berman of The Nation said that line doesn't hold up.
"It's funny that the Republicans are saying they don't have the money to extend early voting, when they spent millions and millions and millions of dollars on unnecessary and costly voter ID laws."
"The Democrats were willing to pick up the tab in these counties to pay for early voting," Berman added, "and Republicans didn't even give them the option to have early voting."
Minutes later on The Rachel Maddow Show, the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne put what Republicans are doing in perspective.
"This is much bigger than a partisan story," Dionne said. "We passed a great law in our country in 1965 called the Voting Rights Act. And the Voting Rights Act was designed to tear down illegitimate barriers to voting in our country, particularly for African-Americans. What's happening this election year—Ohio is an excellent example—is, I think, the most fundamental attack on the right to vote in the country since the Voting Rights Act was passed."
Editor's Note, 10:21 pm: This post originally reported that Republican county commissioners supported the cuts to voting hours. In fact, it was Republican election commissioners.