When people think of voter suppression, a lot of things come to mind. Gerrymandered districts in Ohio and so many other states are certainly at the top of the list. Massive purges of the voter rolls with insufficient notice within a short period of time prior to a major election cycle are another.
And Ohio certainly engages in both, in spite of referendums overwhelmingly passed in 2015 and in 2018. But there are times when the suppression is more subtle and plays into the suppressive nature of rigged districts and massive purges expanding the negative impact of both.
Tuesday was the primary election. It hasn’t gotten a great deal of attention, because primaries usually don’t get huge crowds. But my spouse and I actively chose not to go to the polls. Why? Because we are currently registered as Democrats and we learned that there won’t be a ballot for us should we go to the polls. We can go anyway, but we would have to take the Republican ballot.
We did that once only to learn that this made us registered Republicans until the next general election. This meant we couldn’t sign petitions to place good candidates on the Democratic ballot. It also meant a lot of junk mail, some of which was downright offensive.
So, we didn’t vote Tuesday. Nor did most people who are registered Independent or Undeclared if they want to retain that registration designation. This means that come November we will be faced with choices on the general ballot, most of whom will have been chosen by less than 20% of our local registered voters. This could well present D’s, I’s and even some R’s with a very lackluster level of enthusiasm for voting then as well.
Eventually, this “can’t bother” at the primaries leads to a “why bother” at the general and risks being purged due to inactive voting status over time.
If we are serious about ending voter suppression in Ohio, open primaries would be a good place to start.