Ohio politician: We shouldn't accommodate African-Americans

African-American voters.(AFP Photo / Mario Tama)
Doug Preisse is the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party in the state of Ohio and his reason against extending voting hours this Election Day is clear: keeping the ballots open is a measure that only benefits African-Americans.

Preisse, who is also a board of elections member in Franklin County, voted against extending polling place hours back during the 2008 election. Preisse’s efforts that time around were futile and 93,000 Ohioans ultimately ended up casting votes during the weekend before Election Day.

For the upcoming 2012 presidential race, Ohioans will once again be allocated extra time to vote ahead of the actual Election Day, a decision set in stone last week after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued an order that forces all 88 counties in the Buckeye State to extend voting hours to cover Monday through Friday during the final two weeks before the election.

Once again, Preisse is against the decision and explains to the Columbus Dispatch this weekend why, exactly, he is so adamantly opposed.

“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine," Preisse says in an email to the Dispatch that was delivered on Sunday. "Let's be fair and reasonable."

Preisse understandably came under attack in the hours after his comment was memorialized by the Dispatch, but speaking to Buzzfeed that same day, he pleads that his efforts to regulating voting hours on Election Day to only a certain window are well warranted.

Democrats "are trying to say that I had somehow consciously constrained hours for that purpose," Preisse tells Buzzfeed. "No, I am saying the opposite, that I am asking the question, and I am indeed questioning how far this process of democratic, small ‘d’, democratic voting process should be contorted to favor a political operation. I don’t think we should go overboard in doing that."

"I believe that Republicans and Democrats of good will can have a difference of opinion, an honest difference of opinion here, but I also believe that there is no question that the forces of Obama and the other side of the aisle would love to just throw the barn doors open and have 24-hour voting and just go too far in the other direction," Preisse adds. "It seems to me we can have a reasonable discussion about this."

Democrats, however, might not be willing to work with Preisse towards a compromise after his weekend comments were picked up across the country.

“As a result of historical discrimination against African-American voters, in addition to the recent wave of suppressive voter laws being enacted in statehouses across the country, African-American voters are skeptical of any laws aimed at limiting the opportunity to vote,” NAACP Ohio Conference President Sybil Edwards McNabb tells the Dispatch

As it currently stands, voting booths will be open Monday through Friday until 7 pm during the two weeks before November’s election.