The Rachel Maddow Show | August 27, 2012
>>> news and lots of it from the great state of ohio tonight, where we have been covering the republican party 's attempts in that state to make voting a lot harder. last week, we told you about a group called true the vote, which grew out of a tea party chapter in houston. true the vote exists to challenge voters. they challenge voters' registrations, then they challenge voters when they turn up at the polls. the first time they challenged voters at the polls was in the houston area , where they're from, in 2010 . true the vote appears to have mostly targeted black voting precincts, sending white challengers to stare down voting booths filled with black voters. there were so many reports of an intimidating atmosphere in houston that election that the federal justice department sent observers in on election day . true the vote has had some big injection of funding of some kind. they don't say who their backers are, but now they're planning to have a million poll watchers trained in time for november, all across america. they say every precinct in america will get watched. true the vote has been holding summits in key swing states . they held one in florida last month. they held one in colorado, where the republican secretary of state took time off from his low-profile purge of colorado voter rolls to give a speech to the group. and in ohio , where this tea party -organized challenge voters at the polls true the vote group planned an event for this past saturday. you might ask yourself where this power comes from, right? challenging voters? why do we have laws on the books that allow for challenging voters at their polling place ? well, in ohio , the answer to that question is particularly ugly. in the mid- 1800s , ohio passed it a law that made it the duty of election judges to challenge anybody who showed up to vote and had a, quote, distinct and visible admixture of franklin blood. the voter would then be asked a series of questions about their heritage and where their kids went to school and the voter had to produce two witnesses about their heritage. any judge who accepted the vote of a person with a distinct and visible admixture of african blood faced up to six months in jail. that was how challenging voters worked in ohio in the mid- 1800 . in 2004 , a judge blocked a vote by republicans to put 3,500 poll watchers in ohio precincts, the way the republicans wanted to use those poll watchers, the way the courts rejected, it would have meant that 97% of new voters in mostly black precincts would face a challenge, compared to only 14% of new voters in majority white precincts. this year, the challenge in ohio -- the question, i should say, in ohio is about when you will be allowed to vote. ohio 's new republican majority cut out the last three days of voting before the election, including the weekend hours that had been especially popular with ohio african-american voters. ohio 's republican secretary of state, john husted , at first also went along with the plan to allow more early voting time in ohio 's republican counties, and less early voting time in ohio 's democratic counties. under public pressure, mr. husted, instead, announced that he was cutting early voting for everyone. so it's limited hours at night and no weekends. as we reported on this show last week, ohio 's embattled secretary of state then showed up here on the list of featured speakers for the tea party challenge the voters true the vote summit in ohio this weekend! after we reported on that late last week, well, wait, suddenly his name fell off the list. ohio secretary of state suddenly was not going to attend the true the vote summit anymore, even though he'd previously been on their schedule. true the vote's summit did happen. john husted 's appearance did not. so now mr. husted's office is not returning our calls. they used to return our calls, but since we started asking about his scheduled appearance at true the vote, they have gone radio silent on us. and that's not all. god bless ohio . among ohio 's several troubles with running elections is that a great many people tend to turn up at the wrong polling places or even at the wrong precinct table in the right polling place . by the tens of thousands, ohioans end up throwing out those people's votes. it's a known problem in ohio elections. but a judge today in ohio put that law on hold. the judge said it was not acceptable for so many thousands of ohio voters to have their votes wasted because a poll worker made a mistake and told a person to vote in the wrong spot. this might be my favorite john husted favorite sentence of the day. "a husted spokesman said an appeal was likely." the husted spokesman did not say that to us, of course, but, still, apparently they're going to appeal, because they want were of those votes thrown out. anytime, mr. husted, you would like to talk about this with me one on one, i would love to have you hear on this show. anytime.