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Voter Suppression and Manipulation in Ohio

Even as working Ohioans are ready to vote “No” today on Issue 2, which would repeal S.B. 5, the bill signed by Gov. John Kasich that takes away the right of public employees to bargain for a middle-class life, the right wing has been hard at work. They are not only ginning up their own base, but using deception and voter-suppression legislation to game the outcome.

On Friday, writes John Nichols at The Nation, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, ordered county boards of elections to “shut down early voting for…Tuesday’s election.” Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a bill that will greatly reduce early voting and will shut down Sunday voting entirely, but the law is tabled pending a referendum. So Husted appears to have taken matters into his own hands.

Sunday voting often draws a sizable Latino and African American contingent and best serves workers who can’t get time off from their jobs to vote on Tuesday.

Ohio’s voter-suppression legislation and the anti-collective-bargaining legislation—the Issue 2 referendum on which Ohioans will vote on Tuesday—stem from a common source, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, David and Charles, who also fund Americans For Prosperity.


No surprise, then to find Americans For Prosperity behind the ironically-named Building a Better Ohio (BBO), a group that sprung up to support Kasich’s war on workers. Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reports $28,000 in donations from AFP to BBO, which is the group that, as we reported, lifted video footage from a pro-labor group’s ad to make it look as though a great-grandmother who opposes Kasich‘s grab for the labor rights of firefighters who saved her great-grandaughter’s life was in favor  of the right-wing legislation. BBO is expected to have spent up to $20 million in the fight to take rights away from Ohio workers.

And that’s not all. Politico reports that the Alliance for America’s Future, a Virginia-based group led by Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president), is papering Ohio with a flier that features a photo of Obama  in which reporter Ben Smith sees a racial subtext:

The contrast—between the shadowed president and the bright white citizens—is hard to miss, and the details of the proposal are buried by the clear anti-Obama message.

Then there are the groups about which no one knows anything, such as the opaque Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) that has been urging Ohio voters to call a toll-free number to get the ostensible “real facts” on Issue 2. Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog, reports:

But it turns out the recorded call makes all kinds of lurid claims against a “No” vote in the referendum—and even advances the argument that a “No” vote would be bad for public workers and force layoffs of cops and firefighters.

Read more on Ohio’s Issue 2 referendum here, here and here.

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