Fox News reported that the state democratic committee in Ohio is suing the state to deny soldiers ability to vote and they were joined by the DNC. Of course I was incensed with visions of Florida – when the dems tried to get the absentee ballots of soldiers thrown out in the Gore-Bush contest. Well the truth is somewhat different. Yes it is true that the dems have sued the state over the change in its early voting laws. Two things are at play here. First, the republicans are obsessed over voter fraud and see two contributing factors: no picture ID and early voting. While I have been able to find justification linking no picture ID to fraud, I have yet to find evidence linking early voting and voter fraud. The Ohio legislature is republican dominated and passed a bill ending early voting three days before an election, except for active duty military and citizens living abroad. The state has said that since the elections are on Tuesday, that keeping the polls open through the weekend caused logistical problems such as adequate staffing. However, it appears that the polling places will still be open under the new law but with reduced staffs. The dems want no distinction to be made and the law applied equally to all. State attorney general Mike Dewine has said “I’m just outraged by this. I can’t believe that the Obama campaign [and] the state Democratic party, are actually saying there’s no rational basis for a distinction between someone who is in the military voting, and somebody not in the military. Our whole history in this country, we’ve made a distinction between the two, recognizing the difficulties, and the unique situation that people in the military are in.” The question to me as whether this was actually vote suppression in Ohio like it was in Florida? Of course it depends on the lawsuit so I read it. Does the lawsuit want the military to adhere to the Friday deadline or does want everyone else to vote until Monday? The suit calls for “restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters.” Thus, if the suit fails, then the two deadlines remain (Monday for the military and Friday for everyone else). If, however, the suit succeeds, then the deadline is Monday for everybody. So there is no suppression of the military vote in either circumstance. This is sloppy reporting on the part of Fox but Fox News is not alone. I read several other sources and all implied vote suppression. Maybe it is because DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued a statement in support of the Ohio suit. Normally if Wasserman Schultz opens her mouth it is reasonable to assume that she is on the wrong side of the issue. In this rare case, she is right.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com