|This Cartoon Was E-Mailed To Cincinnati-area Democrats|
GOP's support of tightened voting laws as racist. The cartoon is savage. And it shows how Democratic Chairman Tim Burke views the other side behaving as Jim Crow bigots. The Daily Bellwether has good information that Burke gave the word to distribute the cartoon this week -- a gutsy decision because he sits on the local board of elections with Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou. It speaks volumes about the breach between Democrats -- who favor a more wide-open voting process -- and Republicans, who are determined to restrict access to the polls by requiring voter ID's and red tape. The cartoon makes a straight out declaration: The real intent of Republicans like Triantafilou is protecting "America's Voting Whites."
The frustration has been simmering for more than a year since the Tracie Hunter v. John Williams judicial contest, which has turned into an as-yet unresolved legal battle where the racial makeup of precincts and uncounted ballots remains at issue. Now there is the cartoon, Overtly projecting race into the debate about ballot access is a provocative move, perhaps fighting words. Saying or implying that your neighbors are acting to protect the white race is not often heard in political debate or discussion where less inflammatory phrases like "voter suppression" are used. But the cartoon clearly reflects sentiment at large among Democrats. They see the GOP as fighting efforts to regulate banks, Wall Street and polluters (some GOP'ers favor abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency) while erecting barriers aimed at frustrating citizens of color who want to go to the polls. The Republicans claim they oppose excessive regulation on business. Yet they make citizens jump through increasing numbers of hoops to vote.
Perhaps things boiled over when Democrats -- including the state party and President Obama's reelection campaign -- collected petitions statewide to overturn by referendum in November HB 194. That measures original sponsors included Hamilton County GOP lawmakers Bob Mecklenborg and Louis Blessing. (Mecklenborg resigned last year after a drunk driving incident in Indiana). The Democrats gathered 307,358 valid signatures for the repeal effort. Democrats oppose several provisions in the bill, particularly cutting the early voting time frame to three weeks from five weeks The law also eliminates most weekend voting hours and it removes a requirement that poll workers tell voters when they are in the wrong precinct in a multi-precinct voting location. Republican supporting HB 194 -- which was adopted last June -- contend the measure is needed to prevent fraud. They say it will create uniform election rules to all 88 counties. The law does not include a photo identification requirement. Secretary of State Jon Husted certified the referendum on December 9, 2011. This means H.B. 194 will not be in effect through the November 2012 election, where voters will decide if it should be rejected.
But there is more than the state issues driving the local Dems to frustration. In November 2010 -- fifteen months ago -- Tracie Hunter and John Williams -- finished 23 votes apart in a race for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge. Williams, a Republican, was ahead of Hunter, an African American Democrat. The case has been tied up in federal court over how provisional ballots should be counted. No winner has ever been declared. (During those 15 months, Moammar Qaddafi was overthrown in Libya, Mubarak was kicked out in Egypt, the Bengals completed two NFL seasons, U.S. troops packed up everything and left Iraq, John Boehner presided over a full year of House tea partying after being elected Speaker, Herman Cain came and went, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords has largely recovered from a gunshot wound to the head). The case is moving at a pace that make glaciers look like bullet trains. Meanwhile, Triantafilou has gone so far as to lump Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas, an African American, in with those he considers too "ignorant" to understand what is happening in the Hunter-Williams litigation. Being called ignorant can get under one's skin. Here's what Triantafilou wrote on his blog:
I've been largely quiet in the face of some of the misinformation flowing from those ignorant of what is actually happening at the Board of Elections. The worst offender? Council member Cecil Thomas. As a citizen of this city, I'm disappointed with his fundamental misunderstanding of what is happening at our Board of Elections. I understand why the average citizen might misunderstand the complicated legal proceedings. I have tried to explain it to him, but he is incapable of understanding. I also understand why some use these proceedings to further their own agenda. But Cecil Thomas ought to know better. He should conduct himself as a reasonable public servant. He has hardly done that. He is terribly emotionally invested in this race in a way that is surprising. There is a legal process now playing-out and Mr. Thomas seems incapable or unwilling to understand it.
[UPDATE 3:06 p.m. -- Now have link to the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, where you can click to see more work by Steve Greenberg, a freelancer in Los Angeles. Greenberg created the drawing that was circulated by the Cincy area Democratic party.]