Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a sweeping bill intended to make it harder to vote in his states’ elections. Kasich’s anti-voter law drastically cuts back on early voting and erects new barriers for absentee and even for election day voters. Today, however, opponents of Kasich’s war on voting will submit over 300,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office — well over the 231,000 signatures necessary to suspend the law until it can be challenged in a referendum in November of 2012. If enough of the signatures are deemed valid, the practical effect of this petition will be that Kasich’s law will not be in effect during the 2012 presidential elections when Republicans hoped the law would weaken President Obama’s efforts to turn out early voters who support his reelection.
Note the caveat: if enough of the signatures are deemed valid. The general rule is one would want to submit twice as many signatures as required, and we didn’t make that number. 318,000 is better than I expected, however, because, in my opinion, conservatives and media have succeeded beyond my worst nightmares in convincing people that the fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is exactly the same as cashing a check, using an ATM, or purchasing a bus, train or airline ticket. I’m sure I missed one or two comparisons there, although I believe I’ve heard every one. Like everything else under the sun, the franchise is now akin to a commercial transaction.
That’s remarkable, considering the absolutely epic struggles we’ve had in this country to extend voting rights to minorities and women, up to and including amending the Constitution, but, working in concert, conservatives and media managed to pull that redefinition off.
Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July, 1848, at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. One woman who attended that convention was Charlotte Woodward. She was nineteen at the time. In 1920, when women finally won the vote throughout the nation, Charlotte Woodward was the only participant in the 1848 Convention who was still alive to be able to vote, though she was apparently too ill to actually cast a ballot.
That’s a lot like the epic struggle to cash a check, isn’t it? Sure it is.
Supporters of President Obama in Ohio, a key battleground state, have scored what is seen as a significant victory for maximizing Democratic voter turnout ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Obama campaign volunteers and a coalition of Democratic-aligned advocacy organizations gathered more than 318,000 signatures to effectively block new Republican-sponsored voting restrictions from taking effect through the next year, the groups announced today. “It’s a victory for organizing,” said Brian Rothenberg, who led the fight against the new rules.
It is a victory for organizing, and it’s a (preliminary) victory for my local OFA organizer, who is brand new at this, very young, and local: she grew up in one of the most conservative counties in Ohio. She had to call me four times to track me down to find a place our paths might cross where I could give her my (one) petition.