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Friday, December 2, 2016

We’re having the wrong conversation about recent attempts to restrict voters’ rights in America.

This is not about which political party will be victorious in November.

This is about who we are as a country.

Granted, it’s impossible to ignore who is behind this force for no good whatsoever. Republicans in one state after another are passing laws and issuing dictates to whittle away at the number of citizens who will have the right to vote in this year’s presidential election. They want to impose all sorts of costs and inconveniences on Americans who have never, ever been suspected of voter fraud. Overwhelmingly, these voters tend to be poorer and people of color. Democrats, you might say.

Republicans champion various versions of a 2012 poll tax, even though no reputable study has shown evidence of widespread voter fraud. Curiously, only four states — Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Wisconsin — have imposed greater restrictions on absentee voting, which is the one method most vulnerable to fraud.

Why?

Consider the demographics: Absentee voters across the country tend to be older and whiter — just like the Republican Party.

In Ohio, the Republican secretary of state this week broke a partisan tie on the elections board in Cuyahoga County to ban early in-person absentee voting during the last two weekends in October. Cuyahoga is the most Democratic county in the state. As The Plain Dealer reported, an emeritus professor from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland estimated that in 2008, 93,000 Ohioans voted in person on the Saturday, Sunday or Monday before Election Day. Barack Obama won that state by about 262,000 votes.

Seeing a pattern?

The Obama campaign has sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, also a Republican, in federal court, arguing that these restrictions on balloting violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.