Maryann Tobin

Republican Gov. John Kasich has already signed two highly restrictive voting laws and is expected to sign a third bill that would effectively outlaw almost all early voting in Ohio.

With a straight party-line vote on Wednesday, Ohio Republicans passed a bill that has the potential to stop provisional ballots from being counted. Ohio voters will also no longer have absentee ballots mailed to them. Early voting the week before Election Day has been banned, and same-day voter registration has also been outlawed.

The state has also eliminated about one-third of the state’s polling places and voting machines.

None of these laws have anything to do with preventing non-existent voter fraud, but can effectively stop millions of Ohioans from voting.

According to The Nation, “In 2004, Ohio had the longest lines in the country on Election Day, with some voters—particularly in large urban areas—waiting as long as seven hours to vote. A DNC survey estimated that 174,000 Ohioans—3 percent of the state’s electorate—left without voting. George W. Bush won the state by just 118,000 votes.”

What Ohio voters are left with is voting on Election Day and 2 Saturdays without evening access. Lines are likely to be more than 7 hours long. Those who can’t afford to wait will lose their right to vote.

All signs in Ohio point to a concerted Republican effort to rig the next election in their favor, since lower vote counts generally favor Republicans, and Democrats do well among early voters.

Voter suppression may be the only hope Republicans have of winning elections. Fewer Americans identify with the GOP, the lowest in 25 years, according to recent Gallup polling data.

The Republican war on women and refusal to address immigration reform has pushed millions of voters away from the myopic views of the Republican Party. Middle-class voters also see little reason to vote for candidates promoting austerity for them and more tax cuts for the wealthy. Hate speech has also become part of the Republican brand, which does not appeal to mainstream voters.

Republican candidates that were elected with the promise of creating jobs have also fallen short. With a focus on anti-abortion, anti-gay, and anti-food stamp legislation, job creation has been ignored.

Ohio Republicans are not alone in their knowledge that the voters spoke in 2012, and Barack Obama won reelection. This is a fact that the GOP has never accepted. But in their efforts to win at all costs, they have taken to attacking the very democracy they claim to defend. They can’t win under the current rules, so they are hell-bent on changing them.

Voter suppression and election rigging used to be something people only expected to see in third-world countries. Now the Republican Party is bringing it to Ohio on a grand scale.

If Gov. Kasich is an example of an elected defender of democracy, America is in big trouble.

Ohio State Rep. Nina Turner announced on MSNBC on Wednesday, that she has filed a lawsuit to stop Ohio’s new voter suppression laws.

Author’s note: The opinions and commentary included in this report are based on the author’s original reporting and independent analysis of official documents and public information.

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