01 April 2014

Traditional conservative and Midwest moderate Republicans are finally standing up to the reactionary Buckeye State GOP’ers whose anthem is “Gimme that ol’ time repression.” On January 25, 2012, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted addressed the Ohio Association of Election Officials and recommended that the state’s legislators should repeal the draconian House Bill 194. In this November’s presidential election, voters in Ohio will literally get to vote on who should vote in the state.


Husted urged lawmakers and election officials to start over after the 2012 election with a new bill on voting reform. HB 194 has been denounced by voting rights and civil rights organizations as it, among other things, eliminates some opportunities for early voting and doesn’t allow pollworkers to guide voters to the correct precinct.


In remarks that seemed to startle the right-wing leadership in the Ohio House and Senate, Husted stated, “What we need in 2012 is more stability and less drama.” Husted – embracing the traditional role of an Ohio Secretary of State that was shattered in 2004 by J. Kenneth Blackwell who sought to repress voters in order to elect his candidate George W. Bush – believes that the chief election officer in the state should make it easy for all people to vote regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or disability status.


State Senate President Tom Niehaus and House Speaker Bill Batchelder, the architects of HB 194, attacked Husted at a press conference the next day in what the Columbus Dispatch called “a rare display of public aggravation,” Neihaus “sharply criticized a fellow Republican.” Niehaus’ complained that “my frustration is we have been working directly with the Secretary of State proactively on this very issue, yet had little or no communication about what issues there were that needed to be addressed until I read it in a press release.”


The fact that Husted that Husted did not run his speech by Niehaus and Batchelder is a clear signal that the forces of voter repression are not accepted by the more moderate wing of Ohio’s GOP.


A key point that Husted made before Ohio’s election officials was that, “We don’t need the confusion that will come by debating a referendum at the same time we’re trying to inform people how to vote.” Husted also argued that a million dollar campaign by right-wingers to pass the controversial voter suppression referendum, “doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.” Husted should be concerned about nasty and negative campaign ads from forces for and against the repeal of HB 194. A vicious debate over repressing Ohio voters will once again make Ohio seem more like a pre-1965 Jim Crow southern state.