After losing two big presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, as local Republicans did in this county and state, a political party might think about retooling its message to expand its appeal. After the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee did one of those introspective post-mortems that warned that a party too reliant on an aging white male base needed more outreach to women, African American, Hispanic and young voters.

But there’s another way to alter that cruel electoral math: Keep the folks not in your shrinking base from voting. That seems to be the approach embraced here by Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou and his colleagues that control the Ohio General Assembly in Columbus. They’ve opened up a two-front war on early voting, a tool that the president used effectively to turn Hamilton County blue in the last two presidential campaigns.

Early voting came into vogue in Ohio after long lines at polling places in 2004 kept some polling places open into the wee hours of the next day. By 2008, early voting was open to anyone, either by mail or at a local Board of Elections for 35 days before the election.

Voters loved it. In 2008, when early voting peaked, about 1.7 million Ohioans voted early, either by mail or absentee, which accounted for about 30 percent of the total votes cast. In Ohio’s 12 largest counties, about 340,000 people voted early in person, with hours extending into the evening and on weekends.

As it turns out, those of us who vote early in person tend to vary demographically from those who vote on Election Day. As the U.S. Court of Appeals found in 2012, early in-person voters are more likely to be women, older, of lower income and African American.

But there was one “problem:” A huge voter turnout helped President Obama win Ohio in 2008, and again in 2012. Thus came the GOP crackdown on early voting, starting first with limiting the hours and days for early voting in 2012.

In Columbus, our local GOP delegation has gotten behind two bills recently signed into law by Gov. Kasich. One shrinks early voting from 35 to 29 days. Another would ration access to absentee ballots. In the past, local Boards of Elections were able to mail absentee ballot applications to make it easier to vote by mail. Now only Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted can mail you an absentee ballot application. Better be nice to him, Ohioans!

In Hamilton County, the GOP must have been fed up with pictures of all those (mostly) African American voters lined up outside the Board of Elections in the days before the 2008 and 2012 elections. They have a solution: Hide early voting in a remote location in Mt. Airy, where Catholic Health Partners shut down a hospital. The abandoned Mercy Hospital site may be a good location to park the coroner and the county crime lab. But it’s hardly a place where Hamilton County’s early voters—more than 24,000 of them in 2012—will find it convenient to vote.

When the Board of Elections took public comment on the subject, Board member Triantafilou scoffed at those who pointed out that the Mt. Airy location was inaccessible by public transit. Example: According to SORTA’s website, a bus rider from Madisonville would face a two-transfer, one-hour thirty-eight-minute ride, followed by a nearly half-mile walk. No, Triantafilou said he was more worried about folks driving from Kenwood, who might have to pay for downtown parking.

But what about the 42,000 households in Hamilton County without cars?

And would a Kenwood voter really drive to Mt. Airy, a longer drive on side streets, just to avoid dropping a few quarters into a downtown parking meter?

If Mt. Airy really is more convenient, why aren’t the county commissioners, treasurer, recorder, auditor, or GOP headquarters lining up to move their offices there? As it turns out, even two members of Cincinnati City Council who live in Mt. Airy, Republican Charlie Winburn and Charterite Kevin Flynn, support keeping early voting downtown.

Before the time comes to pack up the Board of Elections and hide it in Mt. Airy, let’s hope the county commissioners and Triantafilou begin listening to the taxpayers who use the Board’s offices, rather than scheming to make it more difficult for them to vote.

Don Mooney is a partner at the Cincinnati office of Ulmer & Berne LLC, and is active in local politics.