The Obama Campaign Wins on Early Voting in Ohio

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 31 2012 6:43 PM

The Obama Campaign Wins on Early Voting in Ohio

The district court has struck down Ohio's limits on early voting three days before an election, squelching -- pending appeal -- a campaign by the secretary of state and scores of local elections officials. Ryan Reilly, who's been covering every turn of this, has a good recap. But insofar as the Ohio case made national news, it was for the Romney campaign's accusation that Democrats were trying to take away the rights of military voters.

It was complicated, which was why it made a good attack line. The Republican-run state scaled back in-person early voting, ending it in the three days before the election, but allowed military voters and Americans living abroad (UOCAVA) to keep this right. The Obama campaign argued that a rule like that violated the 14th Amendment. The Romney campaign, cynically, claimed that Obama was trying to keep the troops from voting.

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This decision puts the lie to that. The court saved the early vote for every Ohioan including military voters, and took some time to explain just how stupid the "soldiers only" argument was.

[T]he Secretary of State’s Directive, which carefully sets forth non-UOCAVA in-person voting times, permits local election boards to determine their hours for the last weekend before Election Day. Defendants emphasize that whether a service member— or overseas voter—can actually vote during those three days is up to each county elections board... In sum, Defendants’ justification for excepting UOCAVA voters from the 6 p.m. Friday deadline—that the military requires this extra voting opportunity—is completely eviscerated, county by county. In fact, according to Defendants, military voters can expect not to be able to vote the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day, if history is any guide.

So: This widely-circulated argument was total dross.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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