Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is a fundamental right that social justice leaders like Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, and William C. Velásquez fought so hard and sacrificed so much for every American citizen to possess.
Voting rights are under attack again, but the fight to protect voters' rights is now being fought state by state. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 last year, 33 states have adopted new restrictive election laws without advanced federal approval. With new Voter ID laws in Wisconsin and limited early voting laws in North Carolina, there is an urgent need to protect the ballot box everywhere, but none more so than in Ohio.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted recently handed down directives that has eliminated the first week of early voting in Ohio. This period, often referred to as “Golden Week,” enables voters to register and vote on the same day. Husted also passed a directive that slashed the early voting period by eliminating all Sundays, the Monday before Election Day and all evening voting hours. Husted's actions are effectively targeting low-income, African American, young and senior citizens, and homeless voters.
In the 2012 election, more than 157,000 Ohioans voted on the days that have now been cut. Lower-income voters tend to rely on evening and Sunday voting hours because they cannot take paid time off of work to vote during regular business hours. Single parents need these hours because it’s the only time friends and family can provide child care. People experiencing homelessness rely on “Golden Week” to register and vote on the same day during the first week of early voting. Finally, among the African American church community, Sunday voting or “Souls to the Polls” voting has become an important cultural activity.
So what’s at stake in Ohio? As Husted’s 2014 Democratic challenger, State Senator Nina Turner and PowerPAC+ Social Justice Champion tells it:
“We need to fight to expand and protect the right to vote: one woman, one man, one vote. The greatest equalizer we have, whether it’s Ohio, California, Arizona – all over this country is the right to vote...As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. And all of us should be upset and up in arms at any attempts to take away access to the ballot box. This is about all of us.” Watch our interview with Nina.
Join us in the fight. Sign your support to the Ohio Voters’ Bill of Rights. Help Ohioans pass a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that will ensure that every Ohioan has access to the polls regardless of political party.