VOICES: Vote like it’s 1864

On November 8, 1864, Dayton voted during a Civil War. The election was a referendum on the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the fight against slavery. In Ohio, there was a strong anti-war movement led by ‘copperheads’ determined to preserve slavery. More votes were cast in this election than any previous contest in Ohio. In Montgomery County, over 51 percent of the vote went to Lincoln, while statewide 56 percent of the vote went for him. The ‘copperhead’ Clement Vallandigham, a Dayton lawyer, was the center of anti-Lincoln sentiment and ran for governor — and lost.

This November 8, Ohio will again vote in a divided nation. Ohio races include one for a Senate seat and in Dayton one for the House. These races have far-reaching consequences. There are differences between the parties and where they stand on key issues that affect you and your family.

The Dayton Daily News has neatly framed these issues. Income: Ohio’s median income is ranked 38th out of the 50 states. Childhood poverty: Ohio ranks 37th. And 18.2% of children in Ohio live below the federal poverty line, with double that figure in the Black community in Dayton. Ohio’s minimum wage is $9.30 an hour (try paying rent and buying groceries on that). Black infant mortality rate is nearly double that of the white population in Dayton and almost triple that of the national average.

Across the country, gerrymandering has been the strategy to seize and maintain political control, and it has worked well in Ohio. The redistricting commission has ignored the Ohio Supreme Court with impunity. Dayton-area state contests pit Democrats, promising opposition to redistricting, against a Republican majority in districts drawn by candidates in a partisan fashion. That undermines the will of voters who sought an end to gerrymandering through recent amendments to the Ohio Constitution.

The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Courts of Appeal and state Supreme Court positions are on the ballot. Trial judges make the rule of law work. Check out the candidate websites and look for experience. The rules of procedure and evidence matter.

There were 13 cases of possible voter fraud in the 2020 November election out of 6 million Ohio voters. Voter suppression is a national and local issue. House Bill 387 and 294 will make it harder for Ohioans to vote. Why reduce or eliminate the number of drop boxes? Why send poll watchers with guns? Casting doubt on the integrity of the system and ultimately the right to vote chips away at voters’ trust in a system that is already precariously low. There are forces in the United States who would very much prefer we not have fair and representative elections at all.

Although James Madison and his colleagues made no guarantee of the right to vote in the Constitution, Madison said plainly in the Federalist papers that it is not a democracy, a republic, without majority rule.

Elections are a referendum on the state of American democracy. All elections are local and have national effects. Vote because it matters. November 8, 2022, is looking a lot like November 8, 1864.

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