Early voting restrictions rankle Dems

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Democrats locally and nationally are speaking out against voting restrictions being implemented by Republicans, mostly in swing states under Republican control, which were brought to light by a New York Times article.

In the past year, nearly a dozen states have passed stricter voting laws. In Ohio, which has traditionally been a swing state, Republicans started measures that limited the times polls are open.

Many Democrats believe these Republican efforts are aimed at limiting voting in swing states. In fact, Democratic officials held a special phone interview to address the matter.

“And let’s be very, very clear. What this is, is an attempt by the Republican party to shrink the electorate because they know when the electorate is large, they lose. When the electorate is smaller, they win,” said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee.

Some of the restrictions include days and times polls are open, locations where people can vote, as well as implementing stricter voter ID rules. Those who helped launch the Voter Expansion Project said their goal was to protect and expand the vote, and they won’t tolerate these tactics.

“The charge of the Voter Expansion Project is really simple: To make sure that every registered voter can vote and to make sure that every vote is accurately counted,” said Pratt Wiley, director of voter protection for the DNC.

Early voting starts Tuesday in Ohio. Youngstown Mayor John McNally said he believes that long window of time encourages people to get out and vote. He said he’s always suspicious when people try to limit access to the ballots.

“Mahoning County can afford weekend voting. I think just about any county in the state of Ohio could. I think you want to try to give people as many opportunities to vote as you can,” McNally said.

Republican party officials said this voting restriction conspiracy is ridiculous.

“This is an effort on the part of the Democrats to create an issue that does not exist. Because today voting is easy, quick in Ohio. And it’s more secure than ever before,” said Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe.

Many of the new restrictions will not start until 2016.

In Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, early voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except on April 7 when it will take place from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., as well as 8 a.m. to noon on May 3.

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