White man yelling into a mic with words Bob Bites Back

The best place to start to understand the undemocratic nature of U.S. elections is to search “Paul Weyrich” and “Goo Goo” online. Weyrich, who states in the speech that “…I don’t want everybody to vote,” is co-founder of the Moral Majority, a religious right organization and ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is infamous for writing oppressive and anti-democratic “model” legislation – much it followed by Ohio’s Republican-dominated state legislature.

After the 2016 presidential election, a New York Times editorial pointed out that North Carolina’s “…Republican Party issued a news release boasting that cutbacks in early voting hours reduced black turnout by 8.5% below 2012 levels, even as the number of white voters increased by 22.5%.” A North Carolina federal appeals court struck down one of their most outrageous voter suppression laws noting that it targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

Ohio’s former Secretary of State Jon Husted used similar racist voter repression tactics in our state. He cut back on early voting hours and eliminated voting centers in urban areas where minority voters are concentrated.

Unlike his recently departed predecessor, who now occupies the state’s Lieutenant Governor’s office, Ohio’s newly elected Secretary of State (SOS) Frank LaRose sounds surprisingly reasonable and sane for a Republican. LaRose seems to understand the voter registration purge problem in Ohio. Or at least he’s giving lip service to it.

Husted was notorious for removing minorities and the poor from the Buckeye State voter rolls and ended his tenure with a last great purge worthy of Stalin. The Dispatch reported on January 13 that Husted attempted to purge “more than 275,000 inactive Ohio voters.” Everyone who had not voted in the last four years was targeted for removal from Husted’s voting roll.

Could you imagine if they told National Rifle Association loyalists that “You have to give up your gun – you haven’t used it in four years” or “You have to give up your concealed carry permit, because you haven’t carried your weapon in four years”?

Voting should be regarded as a constitutional right and is the basis of our democracy. LaRose appears to understand this. He told the Akron Beacon Journal that Ohio’s voter registration process is “antiquated.”

“It relies on thirty years of best guess if someone died or moved,” he noted. LaRose stated the obvious when he said that he “…wants to rely on data the state already collects but doesn’t share.”

LaRose insisted that the SOS office should access updated home addresses every time a voter interacts with the state. In his view, that would include drivers’ licenses, tax filings, or even buying a fishing license. While Husted targeted urban areas for purging, where Democratic voters are in abundance, at his swearing in, LaRose denounced our enemies and named: “racism … and bigotry.”

Husted could never explain why – in an era of computerized unlimited databases and in a state that requires an ID to vote – he had to de-register any voter because they failed to vote.

Isn’t it each person’s right to vote or not to vote?

As the Beacon Journal summarized, LaRose promised a new policy “With access to those addresses and the dates of interactions with the state, many people’s voting registrations could hypothetically continue unchallenged until they die or move out of state.” 

LaRose’s respect for the right to vote is refreshing and long overdue in the Buckeye State.