Obama Campaign Sues Ohio Before Election

The Wall Street Journal reports on the Obama campaign’s recent lawsuit against Ohio over new voting laws.

By Sam Favate

July 18, 2012

Wall Street Journal

Obama Campaign Sues Ohio for Cutting Early Voting Days

The Obama campaign is suing the state of Ohio for restricting early voting in this year’s election, claiming that recent changes made by the Ohio legislature create inequality among voters and violate the Equal Protection Clause.

“This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” Bob Bauer, attorney for President Obama’s campaign committee, said. “We want to restore the right of all to vote before Election Day,” he said, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

The campaign says the election-law changes made by Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, unfairly ends in-person early voting for most people on the Friday evening before Election Day — a Tuesday — but allows military and overseas voters to cast ballots in person until Monday, AP reported.

Obama for America, the president’s campaign committee, is joined in the lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party. In a statement, the parties called the maneuver a “partisan attempt to restrict voting,” CNN noted.

Jon Husted, the Secretary of State in Ohio — named a defendant in the suit — said there is no constitutional violation because federal law treats military voters differently than other voters, Bloomberg reported. Mr. Husted also said he is taking steps to create uniformity and consistency in the election process.

“If this lawsuit were to prevail,” Mr. Husted said, “we would be back to a system that allows voters in one county to be treated different from another county,” Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Mr. Husted also told CNN that the three days before an election were needed for local election boards to “get their records straight” and “make sure their voting rolls are accurate.”

The days of early voting are often used by those who may not have the flexibility to take time off on a Tuesday to vote. More than 1.7 million people in Ohio voted before Election Day in 2008, accounting for about 30% of all ballots cast. About 100,000 of them voted in person in the final three days before the election, Akron Beacon Journal noted.

President Obama won Ohio’s electoral votes in the 2008 presidential election, in what was considered to be a battleground state. Ohio is thought to be one of the deciding factors again in this year’s election.

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