Obama, Democrats suing to block military voting in Ohio? Update: No

posted at 11:21 am on August 3, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Well … maybe, but that depends on what remedy the lawsuit demands.  The DNC, Ohio Democrats, and the campaign for Barack Obama’s re-election have indeed filed a lawsuit in Ohio over an exception for early voting for members of the military and civilians overseas, claiming it sets up an unconstitutionally “disparate” treatment from other voters.  But does that mean eliminating the exception altogether, or extending it to everyone?

Fifteen military groups are opposing a federal lawsuit in Ohio brought by President Barack Obama’s campaign because they say it could threaten voter protections afforded to service members, such as the extended time they have to cast a ballot.

Obama’s campaign and Democrats filed the lawsuit last month against Ohio’s top elections official in a dispute over the battleground state’s law that restricts early, in-person voting during the final three days before Election Day.

The campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party contend the law unfairly ends in-person voting for most Ohioans three days earlier than it does for military and overseas voters.

Attorneys for the Democrats argue such “disparate” treatment is unconstitutional, and all voters should be able to vote on those days.

Breitbart’s Mike Flynn and these military groups assume that the lawsuits intend to restrict access to the military to the Friday deadline, the same as everyone else in Ohio:

On July 17th, the Obama for America Campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in OH to strike down part of that state’s law governing voting by members of the military. Their suit said that part of the law is “arbitrary” with “no discernible rational basis.”

Currently, Ohio allows the public to vote early in-person up until the Friday before the election. Members of the military are given three extra days to do so. While the Democrats may see this as “arbitrary” and having “no discernible rational basis,” I think it is entirely reasonable given the demands on servicemen and women’s time and their obligations to their sworn duty. …

I think it’s unconscionable that we as a nation wouldn’t make it as easy as possible for members of the military to vote. They arguably have more right to vote than the rest of us, since it is their service and sacrifice that ensures we have the right to vote in the first place.

But is the remedy sought by Democrats to force members of the military to adhere to the Friday deadline, or to eliminate the deadline altogether?  Neither the KTVU nor the Bloomberg reports make it clear what remedy the plaintiffs seek — and that’s really the crux of the issue here.

Prior to changes in the law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and by Governor John Kasich, everyone could submit an early ballot in person or by mail all the way through Monday, but access over the weekend for in-person voting was inconsistent in Ohio’s 88 counties.  The counties would have to pay overtime over these weekends to keep offices open, which is probably why some didn’t do so.  The new law restricted early voting to the Friday before the election, but left an exception for military members to cast votes in person through Monday.

The question then becomes this: why not let everyone cast votes on Monday, too?  What state interest is being served by having all the facilities for early voting open on Monday but only limiting access to them for those in the armed service?  It’s certainly nice to give troops a perk, but if the polling booths are open, why restrict it at all?  It’s a fair question, especially if the remedy sought is to extend that Monday deadline for everyone.

However, it’s a big mistake for Team Obama and the DNC to have gotten involved in the suit.  No matter how reasonable the issue might be, it still looks like they’re objecting to an accommodation for military voting.  If the state Democratic Party wanted to file the lawsuit, why not let them take all of the political flak for it?

Update: Like I said, the likely remedy proposed would be to remove the Friday deadline for everyone — and that’s exactly what the plaintiffs are proposing.  Gabriel Malor forwarded me a link to the brief, and the relevant language within it:

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request of this Court the following equitable relief:…

B. A preliminary and permanent order prohibiting the Defendants, their respective agents, servants, employees, attorneys, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them, from implementing or enforcing lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03 (I) in HB 224, and/or the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, thereby restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters;

So no, they aren’t trying to block military members from getting to the polls, but arguing that since the polls will be open anyway, everyone else should have access to them as well.  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.

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So after reading the article, no they’re not really. But we at HotAir are going to post the inflammatory libelous headline anyway! Nice try, but #desperationfail.

inthemiddle on August 3, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Ass, lookie, inthebuff’s van didn’t start this morning…so, how’s that kiss-in going, did you get lucky?? :)… Or still need someone to jump-stat that van? :)…

jimver on August 3, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The Democrats have long been known to cause chaos at the polls on election day. What’s to stop a deliberate flooding of a Monday polling date. The only reason for this lawsuit is to prevent the largely Republican military from having an easier time voting. Hence, lawsuit to block military voting rights.

eaglesdontflock on August 3, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Ed, please update your update and revisit the logic here. The argument is there is no difference between the military and private citizens. Therefore, private citizens should be allowed the same leeways as military. Not so. If the polls are crowded with non-military voters, that may restrict the ability of the military personnel to vote.

[eaglesdontflock on August 3, 2012 at 2:28 PM]

So what? It’s the circumstances for nneding to vote that applies, which is not a group issue. Why are the military members there? If their reason is no different than any other civilian’s, then they can stand in line just like everyone else.

My God, people now have over a freakin’ month beforehand to vote, and then there is election day. They can avoid lines by requesting a mail-in ballot. About the only people I have sympathy for are those overseas, where absentee ballots are a must and which also happens to be the method most abused by parties seeking advantage in the polls.

Dusty on August 3, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Dusty, have you ever been deployed? The movement of troops and the delivery of mail is not like clockwork. What if an absentee ballot is delayed and the troops are deployed back before receipt. What if they arrive in their precinct after early voting closes.What if they are deployed before it opens and their ballot doesn’t reach them in time. What if they encounter bad weather. What if they languish in Bangor. Or Manas, or Azores. What if their superior is an Obama supporter.

eaglesdontflock on August 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM

where absentee ballots are a must and which also happens to be the method most abused by parties seeking advantage in the polls.

Dusty on August 3, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Especially in states where liberals have the majority, and absentee ballots are not sent to military members until it is too late to have them returned before the due date.

But that never happens because the Democrat party wants every vote to count. This is from 3 days ago, not the last election.

BobMbx on August 3, 2012 at 3:03 PM

The Obama admin lawsuit in this regard is bs. Detestable. Punks.

eaglesdontflock on August 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

No Mr. President, the military are no different .

eaglesdontflock on August 3, 2012 at 3:27 PM

So why was this even a story? This is about as irresponsible as Harry Reid’s assertations that Willy hasn’t paid his taxes for ten years.

HondaV65 on August 3, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Agreed. Several comments above (including Ed’s) noted that he tempered his post with “Doubtful” and other qualifications, but I don’t see how that’s very different than asking “I heard that Romney didn’t pay his taxes” and tempering that with “Though I’m not sure that’s actually true.” Reid was much, much worse because it was a bigger issue and he’s a Senator, but still, this was a pretty irresponsible post.

tneloms on August 3, 2012 at 4:01 PM

You guys are naive if you think this is no big deal. This is all about screwing up the election, whether it be the military or voter id or poll times or billy bats.

Explain to me why the Commander in Chief would file a lawsuit to stop a voting accommodation for active military. think. If he stops 10 votes, that’s a victory for obstructionism.

eaglesdontflock on August 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Those last three days are when the elections officials are making the final arrangements for the election. They don’t need crowds of voters interfering. The small number of military really wouldn’t cause much of a problem.

FirelandsO3 on August 3, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Where there’s smoke…

FACT ~ The White House is supporting the filing of a lawsuit concerned with available polling times.

FACT ~ The specifics of the current rules regarding the contested available polling times concerns military members.

FACT ~ For many other purposes, in many other places, this administration is completely in favor of special and different treatment for one group of people.

Question ~ Why are they spending energy on this?

Conclusion ~ Way too obvious to ignore.

Freelancer on August 3, 2012 at 9:38 PM

This is a complete non-issue. I understand what Ohio Dems are saying, because military members “are” indeed just like everyone else and deserve the same rights, but this, of course, will be spun into, “Obama doesn’t care about the troops and he wants to stop them from voting!” Simply, read the comments thus far and you can already see the narrative taking shape. Nevertheless, it is a non-issue, because the majority of the military is…well we already know who they are NOT voting for, so the fact that this creates friction between the military and Obama doesn’t matter, IMO.

StoneKrab on August 4, 2012 at 2:36 AM