Ohio Lawmaker’s Quest to Fight Voter Disenfranchisement

BY Cassie M. Chew  September 20, 2012 at 5:33 PM EDT

Linda J. Scott, Lorna Baldwin and Mike Fritz produced this video.

State Sen. Nina Turner said she thinks recent efforts to change the requirements for voting in her home state of Ohio and other battlegrounds are a partisan effort to disenfranchise voters.

“I really think that this is…about the reelection of President Barack Obama,” Turner, a Democrat, said in a recent interview with NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez. “In those urban areas where voters came out overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, this is the Republican effort to try to steal the vote.”

No Republican has won the White House in recent history without capturing Ohio. There are 18 Electoral College votes at stake there on Nov. 6.

Over the past year and a half, 19 states have passed new laws impacting when and how people can vote. In Ohio, a new law seeks to eliminate weekend voting. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have passed laws requiring voters to produce a government-issued photo identification to cast a ballot. (Watch Ray’s report on Pennsylvania here.) Others have placed new rules on absentee ballots.


Proponents argue these laws are designed to prevent voter fraud, while critics say the rules will discourage voting among the military, the elderly, students and minorities.

Federal courts recently ruled unconstitutional a change in voting times in Ohio. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a lower court to rule on whether a reported 760,000 eligible voters can obtain an approved ID card by Election Day. More on that here.

Even as these laws are being challenged weeks before the nation heads to the polls, Turner said that it will be tougher for voters and people need to realize what is at stake.

“This is really about access to the ballot and whether or not these laws that are being passed across this country have a disproportionate impact on populations that have been historically disenfranchised,” Turner said.