Protecting early voting in Ohio
More than 1.7 million voters headed to the polls early in 2008—and Obama supporters have worked for months to make sure anyone who is eligible can vote at a time that's convenient to them in 2012.
The Truth Team took a look at how the President's campaign is fighting to expand voting rights in Ohio, and why Mitt Romney's recent accusations couldn't be farther from the truth.
What happened to early voting in Ohio?
In the 2008 presidential election, more than 93,000 Ohioans utilized early voting in the three days before the election.
Earlier this year, Ohio's GOP-controlled legislature passed an election reform law that cut off early voting three days before the election.
More than 300,000 Ohioans signed a petition to secure a referendum on the November 6th ballot in order to repeal this law. Rather than face the referendum, the legislature, at the urging of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, decided to repeal the law.
However, "in an unusual turn of events," Ohio Republicans managed to keep a technical provision of the bill that shortens the early voting process and eliminates the last three days of early voting for all citizens except military personnel and their families.
What does that mean for voters?
In addition to reducing Ohioans’ access to the polls, the legislature created inequality between military voters who can cast early ballots in person through the day before the election and all other voters who only have until 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election to vote in-person absentee.
Why is there a lawsuit?
These restrictions are a violation of the equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit seeks to make sure that all Ohioans, including military members and their families, can exercise their right to vote early. “This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” said Obama for America attorney Bob Bauer. “We want to restore the right of all to vote before Election Day.”
What does Mitt Romney's position mean for Ohio's voting veterans?
Mitt Romney supports the Ohio GOP's attempt to eliminate early voting access during the three days before Election Day for all Ohioans except active military personnel and their families. As two-tour Iraq veteran and Vote Vets Chairman Jon Soltz points out, that means Mitt Romney supports restricting early voting rights for more than 900,000 Ohio veterans. The law Mitt Romney supports only allows voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA) to vote early. But once servicemembers leave the military, they are no longer covered by UOCAVA and therefore—under Ohio's law—would lose their access to early voting in the three days before Election Day, alongside millions of other Ohio voters. "In short, Mitt Romney supports efforts to make voting more difficult for the very people who have put their lives on the line," Soltz notes.