Harris-Perry to OH Secretary of State: Voters won’t forget suppression attempts
Saturday morning on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry,” author, Tulane professor and host Melissa Harris-Perry directed this week’s weekly open letter segment to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. In it, she addressed the partisan Republican’s attempts to eliminate early voting and lessen voter accessibility in the 2012 elections.
“Dear Secretary Husted,” she began, “It’s me, Melissa! Can I call you Jon? How are you feeling today? Still a little sore, I’d imagine. Getting beaten so badly with all that backlash had to sting a bit. It’s probably going to leave a mark.”
“After all, you’ve spent the better part of this year throwing the full force of your power as Secretary of State into restricting the right of some Ohioans to vote and on Tuesday,” she said, “it boomeranged bang upside your head somethin’ fierce.”
Harris-Perry went on to explain how when Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Republican state legislators and Husted tried to shut down early voting the weekend before the election, a time when a great number of African-American and working voters were known to vote, the Obama campaign sued the state of Ohio to have those hours restored and won.
A Southern District Court of Ohio judge handed down an order (.pdf) to allow early voting to move forward, which Husted threatened to disobey until the judge ordered him into court to explain himself.
“You backed down rather than go before the judge,” Harris-Perry said. “Maybe you thought you’d have better luck with the Appeals Court, but nope. They allowed Ohioans to vote on the weekend before Election Day. So what did you do? You appealed appealed again, this time the Supreme Court, who promptly shut you down with a one-sentence statement from Justice Elena Kagan.”
Husted persisted, however. When courts ruled he could not limit the days of early voting, he limited the hours, shortening them considerably from the hours early voting was available in 2008.
“You’ve been a busy guy, Jon,” she continued, laying out his elimination of all other weekend voting in Ohio and firing two Democratic state officials who tried to permit it as evidence.
Then in the eleventh hour, Husted tried one last time to limit voting, filing a motion on Friday to make voters responsible for election officials’ mistakes on their provisional ballots.
“Once again,” Harris-Perry said, “the courts will not be fooled by your shenanigans.”
U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley blasted Husted and his attorneys on Wednesday, saying that the ballot measure’s Friday at 7:00 p.m. filing was a sign that “Democracy dies in the dark.” He overruled the motion.
African American voters turned out in historic numbers in Ohio this year, comprising 15 percent of the electorate, up from 11 percent in 2008. Latino voters turned in out in large numbers as well, winning the state for President Barack Obama.
Harris-Perry reminded Husted that the people waiting in those lines to vote have long memories and remember when they had to face “literacy tests and poll taxes and arrests and burnings and shootings” at other points in history when racist whites tried to deny black people their right to vote.
“So they would not be deterred by a lack of patience or an unpleasant climate,” she said, “and they would certainly not be deterred by you. And Jon, there is something else that you should know about the memory of those voters. In 2014, when you’re up for re-election, they’re also going to remember what you tried to do.”
“Sincerely,” she concluded, “Melissa.”
Watch the clip, embedded via MSNBC, below: