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Doug Priesse, an Ohio GOP election official, is offering his apologies for a statement he sent via email to the “Columbus Dispatch” on Sunday . “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine. Let’s be fair and reasonable.“
Preisse voted against the weekend voting rules that enabled thousands to cast ballots in the 2008 election. He is a member of the board of elections for Franklin County, which includes Columbus, and chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party.
Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, on Wednesday ordered all 88 counties in Ohio to allow early voting Monday through Friday, until 7 p.m., during the final two weeks before the election. Weekend voting, however, will not be allowed. The Obama administration has sued Husted to restore the final three days of early voting, as weekend voting helped 93,000 Ohioans cast ballots in the final three days before the 2008 election.
Black churches promoted taking “your souls to the polls” events on the Sunday preceding the election, which will be unavailable this election year if Husted’s ruling stands. A study by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates found blacks accounted for 56 percent of all in-person early votes in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, while they accounted for 26 percent of votes overall. In Franklin County, African-Americans cast 31 percent of early votes and 21 percent of votes overall.
Ironically, early voters in 2008 in Cuyahoga and Franklin counties were disproportionately African-American.