President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is helping activists in the battleground state of Ohio challenge an election law that would shorten the time for early voting, which helped Obama in his first run for the White House.
Opponents must gather roughly 231,000 valid signatures before the law’s effective date Friday in order to block it from being in place until after the presidential election next year. That election would be the earliest chance voters would have to weigh in on whether the overhaul should be tossed out. Democrats, including the president’s campaign, are trying to protect a method of voting they see as a boon for their party.
“At a time when we should be expanding the number of people voting, there are some in Ohio trying to shrink it. It’s pure politics,” wrote Jeremy Bird, Obama’s national field director, in an email to supporters urging them to sign and help circulate petitions.
Even without the Obama campaign’s help, getting the signatures needed for a ballot referendum in Ohio might not be much of a challenge for opponents of the elections overhaul, which also include Democratic lawmakers, liberal groups, the state’s Democratic Party and minority organizations. They are using a volunteer structure in place from an earlier signature drive, when groups gathered almost four times the needed signatures to put a proposed repeal of Ohio’s new collective bargaining law on the November ballot.
Volunteers in that effort recently collected more than 10,000 signatures in one day, said Greg Schultz, Obama’s state director in Ohio, in a recent campaign email.