Ohio Outs Early Voting Method Favored By Blacks

Source: Zachary Roth / MSNBC

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday he is cutting early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings, dealing another blow to the voting rights effort in the nation’s most pivotal swing state.

Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election.

There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.

“By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.

The news comes days after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed two GOP-backed bills that cut six more days from the early voting period, end same-day registration and make it harder to vote absentee. Together, the restrictions could significantly reduce minority turnout this fall and in 2016.

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