In October & November of both 2012 and 2008 TV viewers around the nation were treated to images of voters waiting in long lines to vote at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati. Often they waited for hours.
It was embarrassing for both Hamilton County and Ohio and raised questions about the conduct of elections in a key swing state.
But, ever resourceful GOP elections officials think they have now found the solution. Move the Board of Elections to a new location that is hard for voters to get to. That would include the ONLY location in the County for early voting. That’ll “fix” the problem.
That is exactly what will be on the agenda of the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Monday morning January 27th at 8:30 am. What is proposed is to move the Board of Elections to a new site more than 10 miles out of downtown Cincinnati, an abandoned hospital that would be renovated for this use. The new location is not easy to find and has very poor access to public transportation.
Left unanswered is how many of the more than 27,000 voters in 2008 and nearly 25,000 voters in 2012 who voted at the Board of Elections would be able to find their way to this new site?
All indications are that many would not. In many cases a trip by bus to this new location would require one or more transfers and be as much as 1.5 hours (or more)one way.
The end result may be shorter lines at the cost of fewer people voting. But then again, maybe that’s the whole idea. Its also clear that GOP supporters first hope that this idea flies under the radar and secondly they will have the support of Ohio Secretary of State to break a 2-2 tie among Board member and force this change through in the face of opposition.
Remarkably, the normally conservative Cincinnati Enquirer has published a strong editorial in opposition to this idea that can be seen here But even that has not deterred the GOP from moving forward with this plan.
If something similar were to happen in Ohio's other urban counties the effect could be profound. Remember, the difference in Ohio in 2004 was roughly 174,000 votes. Those votes gave Bush a second term. The total early votes in Ohio Counties no doubt is well in excess of that. This is no small matter though it may seem that way.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections meets at 824 Broadway in downtown Cincinnati, 45202