In Ohio, Voter Suppression Efforts May Be Galvanizing African-American Voters
On a hip-hop radio station in northeast Ohio, a swing state where turnout among black voters may decide the presidential election, listeners are being exhorted to vote this year — not just for a candidate, but to send a message.
“There are forces at work that don’t want you to vote,” intones an ad produced by the station that mentions no parties or candidates, “and will do anything they can to make it difficult for you to vote. You’re stronger, you’re smarter than that.”
Those “forces,” in the eyes of many minority voters in Ohio and other battleground states, are Republican state legislators who have sought to limit early voting and impose voter identification requirements — moves widely seen as an effort to tamp down turnout by African-Americans.
In Ohio, that effort has mostly failed, with many new restrictions either overturned by the courts or hastily repealed by the Legislature itself in the face of popular uproar. But in the process, Republican legislators seem to have handed a powerful rallying cry to those seeking to maximize minority-voter turnout.
Where voting laws stand in key states
“It’s suppression. It’s blatant,” said Michele Rudolph, 57, a retired county employee and resident of Maple Heights, a predominantly black community southeast of downtown Cleveland, who attended an early-voting cookout recently with other Obama campaign volunteers. Wielding a pink BlackBerry, Rudolph pulled up a message she posted on Facebook recently urging friends to “take advantage of the rights and privileges that people have tried so hard to take from us” when early voting begins in Ohio on Tuesday.