Mitt Romney wrongly suggests the Obama campaign is trying to “undermine” the voting rights of military members through a lawsuit filed in Ohio. The suit seeks to block state legislation that limited early voting times for nonmilitary members; it doesn’t seek to impose restrictions on service members. In an Aug. 4 Facebook posting, Romney called the lawsuit an “outrage,” and said that “if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.” He painted the court filing as an attack on the ability of service men and women to vote: “The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.” Conservative blogs and opinion pieces have also misrepresented the case, claiming in headlines that President Obama was suing to “restrict military voting.” A fundraising email appeal from a group called Special Operations Speaks — which wants to “remove Barack Obama from the White House” — wrongly says that Obama “deploys army of lawyers to suppress military’s voting rights,” claiming that “Obama needs the American military to not vote, so he has set out to make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.” But that’s not what the Obama lawsuit aims to do at all.
The lawsuit, filed by the Obama campaign, Democratic National Committee and Ohio Democratic Party in July against Ohio’s secretary of state and attorney general, asks for an injunction to block implementation of state laws that modified in-person early voting regulations. In the last presidential election, all Ohio residents — military and otherwise — could cast their votes in-person early up through the Monday before Election Day. But contentious legislation passed by Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011 limited early voting for nonmilitary residents, giving them a deadline of 6 p.m. Friday before the election. Military members and overseas civilians could still vote through Monday. Both parties havesquabbled, with Democrats saying the law is a suppression of nonmilitary votes and Republicans arguing that they are just easing a burden on polling places and guarding against fraud. (Mail-in absentee ballots are not affected; the new regulations affect in-person early voting.) Contrary to conservative claims, the Democratic lawsuit seeks to restore early voting “for all Ohio voters.”