"Long-time IUPUI political scientist Brian Vargus reminds that in the May primary election Obama failed to capture so much as a single county in a gigantic “U”-shaped swath around the Indianapolis area. That “U” begins near Fort Wayne and extends south to cover virtually all of southern Indiana and up the western side of the state to Lafayette.
Are people in that “U” racist? It would be naïve to think that some aren’t, Vargus says. Most of the apparent discomfort with Obama probably comes from the largely rural areas having little contact with minorities, he suspects.
Hardly anyone admits to pollsters that race influences their vote. Yet, Vargus notes that polls in other states have shown 5 to 15 percent of respondents say their neighbor wouldn’t vote for a person of color."
To win Indiana, Obama would likely need a big turnout from three low-income, heavily African-American cities, in the northern part of Lake County, near Chicago. Those three cities -- Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago -- together comprise more than 40 percent of the county's population. But under Indiana law, early voting can take place only in the county clerk's main office, which for Lake County is in Crown Point, more than an hour's drive from those cities.
As a result, on September 23, the county board of elections, on a 3-2 party-line vote, approved the opening of satellite early-voting centers in the the three cities. (State law specifically gives elections boards the authority to approve satellite voting centers, and early voting occurred at the centers in advance of the Democratic primary in May.)
But Republicans argue that the decision is unfair to voters in other parts of the state, many of whom would still need to travel to their county seat to vote early. Last week, the county GOP challenged the move, arguing that the centers can only be approved through a unanimous vote of the election board, and asking for a restraining order on early voting. Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins -- a recent appointee of the state's GOP governor, Mitch Daniels -- issued the order Friday.
Within hours, a federal judge had vacated that decision, and announced a hearing this Thursday to resolve the issue.
Democrats had hoped to open the satellite voting stations today, but have agreed to hold off until the issue is resolved. They have said that if the restraining order is not upheld on Thursday, they plan to open the centers the following day. But whatever happens, almost a week of easier access to the polls for many of the county's low-income residents has been lost.
A minor observation, a question really, about annoying Lake County: it seems all this could backfire on the Governor who seems to want to make nice with the toll road country.