John Kasich

How 2014's Elections Will Influence 2016's Voting Rights

Voters across the country trying to cast votes in Tuesday’s elections ran into hurdles erected by Republican legislatures, governors and secretaries of state. Along with mechanical glitches and human error — which occurred in states with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum — voters faced new laws and policies that made it harder to vote.

In Alabama, a last-minute decision by the attorney general barred people from using public housing IDs to vote. Voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas sowed confusion. Georgia lost 40,000 voter registrations, mostly from minorities. In all, the group Election Protection reported receiving 18,000 calls on Election Day, many of them having to do with voter ID laws. The group noted that the flurry of calls represented “a nearly 40 percent increase from 13,000 calls received in 2010.”

In the presidential election year of 2016, it looks unlikely that those problems will subside — especially if Congress fails to restore the Voting Rights Act. The two states that had the closest vote tallies in the last presidential election — Florida and Ohio — will go into the presidential election year with Republicans controlling the offices of governor and secretary of state and holding majorities in their state legislatures.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who won reelection yesterday, will be able to appoint a secretary of state and will enjoy the support of a veto-proof Republican majority in the state House.

In Ohio, controversial Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted won reelection on Tuesday, along with Gov. John Kasich. They’ll be able to work with a strengthened GOP majority in the state legislature.

In North Carolina, where a Republican legislature and governor have cracked down on voting rights, the GOP held onto its majority. Republican secretary of state candidates in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Nevada also won elections yesterday.

Two influential elections for voting rights also took place in states unlikely to be presidential swing states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national ringleader for advocates of restrictive voting laws, won reelection. In Arizona, which has been working with Kansas to defend their states' respective tough voting requirements, Republican candidate Michele Reagan also won her contest.

One exception to the trend is Pennsylvania, where Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who backed a harsh voter ID law that has since been struck down in the courts, lost to voting rights supporter Tom Wolf. Although Wolf will contend with a Republican majority in the state legislature, he will be able to appoint a secretary of the commonwealth.

Ohio Law Meant to Force Abortion Providers 'Out of Business,' Anti-Choice Leader Admits

On Sunday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law some of the most restrictive anti-choice measures in the country, including requiring that women seeking an abortion undergo costly and medically unnecessary ultrasounds, mandating that physicians give a pre-written anti-choice speech to women seeking abortions, preventing rape crisis centers from counseling women on abortion options, and dramatically cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and redirecting some of that money to anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers,” and even redefining pregnancy.

The bill also includes a requirement that all abortion providers have formal “transfer agreements” with local hospitals…but bans public hospitals from signing these agreements. This transfer agreement provision is a classic TRAP (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) law, meant to place such unnecessary and burdensome requirements on abortion providers that they are forced to shut their doors.

Generally, anti-choice activists defend TRAP laws by claiming that they are merely looking out for women’s health and safety. But in an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins yesterday, Ohio Religious Right activist Phil Burress admitted that the goal of Ohio’s new law is in fact to force abortion clinics “out of business.”

Perkins, recognizing that Burress had strayed from the anti-choice movement’s talking points, tried to get things back on track by insisting that “these agreements are generally good health practices.”

Burress: Not only did we pass pro-life legislation, but in Ohio $1.4 million in federal money that will be diverted from Planned Parenthood to many of the crisis pregnancy centers.

Perkins: That means President Obama’s going to have to go out and do another fundraiser for Planned Parenthood.

Burress: Exactly. They’re reeling, aren’t they, they’re really hurting for money. But, you know, $1.4 million is a lot of money, but in terms of the amount of money that Planned Parenthood spends, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s a statement. And we praise Gov. Kasich and the Republicans that put this through. And they also have passed legislation called a transfer agreement, that every abortion clinic has to have a transfer agreement with a hospital, but they are prohibited from signing one with a public hospital. So we can put pressure on hospitals to not sign agreements, and we may see some abortion clinics go out of business.

Perkins: Yeah, and these agreements are basically good health practices.

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

African American Ministers Leadership Council Applauds Restoration of Early Voting Rights in Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio – Ohio members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) applauded a federal court’s decision today to restore early voting rights for all Ohioans in the three days before November’s election.

In 2008, 93,000 Ohioans cast their votes in the three days before the election. Last year, the Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich passed a law eliminating early voting during those three days. The Obama campaign sued to reinstate it. Last Sunday, AAMLC member Rev. Dr. Tony Minor wrote an op-ed in the Plain Dealer criticizing attempts to limit early voting in Ohio.

“This is a victory for our democracy, and a victory for every Ohio voter,” said Rev. Dr. Tony Minor of Cleveland, Ohio coordinator of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “Early voting helped make it easier for many working Ohioans to vote four years ago. It was a success story for civic participation and for civil rights. Our elected officials’ cynical attempts to make it harder for Ohioans to cast our ballots went against both the spirit of our democracy and the letter of our law.”

The African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation founded in 1997, works nationwide to help bring African Americans to the polls  through the non-partisan “I Am A VESSEL and I Vote!” program.

 

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