Early voting evens the playing field

Written by: Kara Hemphill

Early voting in Ohio, which has been a major topic of discussion recently, was restored when a judge ruled in favor of it last Friday.

In August, Ohioans were unsure whether they would be able to vote on nights and weekends during the three days leading up to the election. Ohio is one of 32 states with early voting.

Because early voting tends to attract racial minorities and people who earn lower incomes, the restoration of the practice is considered good news for Democrats. It was in mostly Democratic counties that early  voting was to be eliminated, while Republican counties retained their early voting policies.

The fact that this common practice was called into question in such a divided way speaks to the underhanded tactics that are being used to win elections.

Certain groups cannot hold priority over others simply because of their political leanings. To attempt to pick and choose who gets to vote early on a county-by-county basis is simply ridiculous.

Photo identification laws, which have also been a hot topic leading up to this year’s election, present a similar problem. Many forms of identification are costly and difficult to obtain, especially for people with limited resources, who are less likely to have them in the first place.

Voter ID laws and early voting restrictions are similar in that they both disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups. As Ohio is a swing state and holds 18 of the 270 electoral votes, it is especially crucial for people to be able to vote here.

Fighting specifically to hinder the lower class and racial minorities from voting sends the message that their input is less valued, which is consistent with how the Republican Party operates. It’s no surprise, really, that members of these groups are more likely to vote Democrat when the other side hastily silences them.

One of the things we are supposed to pride ourselves on as Americans is having a say in our government. We should be working to make voting accessible, as it is one of the simplest ways to contribute our voices. And we certaily shouldn’t be extending voting time for some groups while denying it to others, all within the same state.

Regardless of which party early voters are more likely to support, it is unfair to knowingly deny them the opportunity to act on that support. Voting is our right as citizens, and to deny a person that right for the benefit of any political party is wrong.

More than just a win for the Democratic Party, the restoration of early voting in Ohio is a win for democracy as a whole.