[promoted from the diaries as part of the Ambitious Writer's Program]
On paper, the lawsuit is filed in federal court as Obama for America v. Husted. If you read the content of the complaint, it should actually be called Obama v. the U.S. Troops.
Bloomberg reported on Tuesday:
"Obama for America, the U.S. president’s re-election campaign committee, sued two Ohio officials over changes to state law that limit in-person early voting for some people and not others.
"Under the law, families of armed forces members and civilians overseas can vote through the Monday before an election, while early voting for all other Ohio residents ends on the preceding Friday, a disparity Barack Obama’s campaign claims is unconstitutional."
The actual substance of the Obama campaign's lawsuit says that the state of Ohio cannot treat soldiers differently than the ACORN troops they round up on the streets on election day. They argue in the complaint that:
"A state may not arbitrarily impose disparate treatment on similarly situated voters...Thus, once the State of Ohio decides to provide voters with the right to vote early, it cannot arbitrarily grant that right to some voters and not to others. "
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted argues that the state is required by the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act to provide uniformed and overseas military families early, in-person access to voting booths through the day before the election.
Obama for America, along with the Ohio Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee disagrees:
"[F]or purposes of in-person early voting, both UOCAVA and non-UOCAVA voters are identically situated, i.e., they are qualified electors who are physically present in their home country when they desire to vote in-person at their county board of elections office prior to Election Day."
Team Obama does not recognize that there might be extenuating circumstances or hardships relating to their military service, which is the purpose of the UOCAVA. They must be treated like every other citizen.
The background of this entire flap is election-reform legislation that the Ohio legislature passed earlier in the year and Gov. Kasich signed into law. The main goal of the law was to standardize procedures across the state, so every polling place had uniform election rules.
The most controversial part of the new law (in the eyes of the Democrats) set the cut-off date for early, in-person voting for Friday before the election. Before this law there was a patchwork of dates and times for local boards of election across the state. Democrats were outraged.
What happened next was no surprise. Printers made boatloads of money printing petitions for the repeal effort. They collected some 300,000 signatures in their repeal effort. Still smarting from their defeat in the union reform effort, the Republicans didn't have the stomach for another protracted battle.
They repealed the law. In a bizarre twist, Republicans voted 54-42 to repeal a law they had passed with only Republican votes. And the Democrats voted to keep a law they were fighting to put on the ballot to repeal. They wanted a large, expensive public brawl and weren't going to get it.
Except that Republicans didn't repeal all of it. The Friday cut-off for early voting was inserted into another bill that Kasich quickly signed into law. The Republican majority also did some administrative housekeeping and made sure the troops were taken care of and would be allowed to vote through Monday, consistent with federal law. This cut the repeal effort off at the knees, but enraged the Democrats, leading to the lawsuit, apparently their last resort at this point.
Obama for America's whiny suit is arguing that it's just not fair for the troops to have special privileges.
Husted spoke to the Dispatch:
"Husted said the state is bound to follow federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act, which provides uniformed and overseas military families early, in-person access to voting booths through the day before the election. He also said if the Obama lawsuit were successful, the state would lose uniformity because some county’s would have polls open through the Monday before the election and some wouldn’t.
“If they want equal protection, they should love what I’ve done in this state,” Husted said, referring to decisions he’s made such as ensuring all voters received a mailing asking them if they wanted an absentee ballot in this election."
Ohio GOP Chairman, Bob Bennett said this is "just another circus sideshow.”
“Nobody is being disenfranchised here, as Ohio’s voters who choose to vote early can do so by mail 24 hours a day, seven days a week or at early voting polls.”
Indeed, nothing is preventing the 100,000 voters Obama says will be disenfranchised from voting the weekend before the cut-off date. In fact, they can begin voting in person a full 35 days before the election and as Bennett said, they can mail their absentee ballot anytime. There is nothing magical about those three days before the election.
But Obama is intent on scoring political points. In fact, this suit has to dig all the way back to 2004 and, guess what? It's Bush's fault again! Remember all those disenfranchised voters? They're back:
"Ohio has a history of troubled elections, most notably the 2004 Presidential race. The administration of that election in Ohio earned the State widespread notoriety for its seven plus hour lines to vote, machine shortages and malfunctions, and a wide assortment of other problems that led to the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters."
Again, (and Obama ignores this), we now have no-fault absentee voting and a month of early, in-person voting in Ohio. We also have no photo-ID law in this state, so virtually anyone, with nothing more than a utility bill they found in a dumpster, can walk in and fraudulently vote here.
Yet Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina deceptively told supporters in an email on Tuesday:
"Along with the DNC and Ohio Democratic Party, this campaign filed a lawsuit to reinstate equal early voting rights for all Ohioans -- rights the Republican-controlled legislature arbitrarily stripped away this past year."
"Every Ohioan who cares about this fight, or has fought like hell to keep voting rights intact over the last year, should know the best way to help right now is to join the organizing that's making sure every eligible voter is ready and able to cast their ballot this fall."
This is certainly an act of desperation by the Obama campaign and we should expect it to be repeated in other states.
But how very sad and pathetic that they would use the troops as pawns in their private war against the Republicans.
"AMVETS, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Association of the U.S. Army and other organizations asked a judge late Wednesday to dismiss the lawsuit.
"The military groups say federal and state law recognizes that service members need extra time to cast their ballots. They say they fear the precedent that could be set if a court finds that military voters shouldn't be treated differently than other voters."
Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air concluded (correctly) that the remedy Obama is seeking is to allow voting through Monday for everyone in the state:
"A couple of commenters think this will be a “logistical nightmare,” but the logistics aren’t really that scaleable. Having the polls open for a few would be the same as having them open for many. There may need to be few more election judges, but those positions are voluntary anyway."
Actually, yes, it is a logistical nightmare. As a poll worker and a presiding judge, I can testify unequivocally that this causes all kinds of problems.
First, the law would resort back to what we had before, which was a patchwork of different times and dates for the end of early voting. People didn't know from precinct to precinct what the hours and dates were, causing confusion, especially if they moved to a different precinct.
Early voting is held at local boards of elections (BOE). When hours are extended through the weekend, the BOE's paid staff is required to man the offices, whether or not they have the budget to do so. This in addition to the long hours they must put in the day before, day of, and day after the election.
The other problem is that historically, a lot of the people voting the weekend before the election are carted to the polls by groups like ACORN. They either don't have proper ID or they are in the wrong precinct, forcing them to vote provisional (paper) ballots. Again, this puts an extra burden on the BOE officials. It also increases the likelihood of voter fraud.
Again, there is a 35-day window for early voting and also no-fault absentee voting. There is no reason anyone can't find time to vote without carpet-bombing the BOE the weekend before the election.