Ohio early voting and White House meddling

posted at 11:01 am on August 5, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Nothing is ever easy in Ohio, it seems, at least when it comes to politics and elections. The latest significant dust-up involves a pair of 2011 changes to the Buckeye State’s voting laws concerning early voting. Early voting previously was allowed right up until the day before the election, but has now been terminated on the Friday before. (Presumably to allow election officials more time over the weekend to wrap up the early vote process and get ready for the heavy traffic on Tuesday.) An exception was made for military members and their families.

That’s where the Obama administration comes in, filing suit in Ohio to toss out the law on the grounds that it is somehow unconstitutional. Mitt Romney wasn’t about to let a softball like that sail over the plate.

“President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. 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. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.”

To me this sounded pretty much like a no-brainer. We make exceptions in our legal codes for military members and their families in all manner of activities. Commissary and military exchange prices get very favorable tax treatment unavailable to civilians. Returning veterans qualify for all manner of government funded or subsidized benefits which can not be had by civilians. And rightly so! What kind of a wet blanket would come along and try to defend Obama’s law suit? Enter my friend, Doug Mataconis.

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be any justification for this kind of disparate treatment. What is it that distinguishes a member of the military, or their family members, from regular voters to the extent that it should be acceptable to give them three extra days to vote early? It’s hard to see any plausible answer to that question that would withstand legal scrutiny, and the argument made by the Ohio Attorney General in his responsive pleading doesn’t strike me as persuasive:

Doug provides a lengthy legal analysis of it – not terribly surprising, since he’s a lawyer – which you are invited to read. One of his chief complaints comes from the state’s argument that we already make exceptions for military members overseas (and civilians as well) under the Uniform Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

The state argues that this is justified by the provisions of the UCOAVA and the general accommodations that have been given to military voters in the past, including extending the time for military ballots to be received beyond those of ordinary absentee ballots. As Court have noted, though, those accommodations are acceptable precisely because of the unique situation that deployed members of the military find themselves in being thousands of miles from home and unable to return home to vote.

This argument only really makes sense, it seems, if we’re talking about members of the military who are on the verge of being deployed, something they’re likely to know about well before the three days before Election Day unless we’re talking about a deployment made necessary by a foreign crisis of some kind.

I disagree with this on two major counts. First of all, as Doug concedes, the constitution gives the states broad discretion in how they structure their elections and when they are held. In Oregon, for example, you only vote by mail. And – again – we regularly make exceptions for the military. The argument that there will only be impediments to voting if the service member is overseas is invalid in my opinion. The options for civilian employees are far different from servicemen. As any service member or veteran knows, if your duty section is on call, you can’t simply wander away from your post to go vote. Civilian employers are unlikely to bar anyone’s chance to vote, if only for the public outcry which would follow. And duty rotation cycles can vary wildly in the military. There are plenty of combinations which would make it virtually impossible for soldiers, sailors and airmen to get to the polls in any given 48 hours.

What’s the real reason Obama’s team is trying to shoot down this law? Doug actually answers this question himself, though perhaps unintentionally.

It’s not hard to see a partisan reason behind the discrepancy, of course. As a general rule members of the military and their family members are more likely to vote Republican than Democrat so anything that encourages this particular voting group to vote when it’s convenient would potentially be of advantage to the GOP.

While I personally disagree that the military vote is as homogeneously Republican as is implied here, it’s certainly a common perception. But rather than blaming Ohio for trying to structure a law expanding military voting options to benefit the GOP, the court challenge from Obama is just as clearly an effort to limit military voting options – even to a tiny degree – to nullify that advantage. The whole thing stinks from beginning to end, as I see it, and Romney is right to call national attention to this lawsuit.

ADDITIONAL READING: Dr. James Joyner decides to focus on the question of whether the Obama lawsuit is trying to “take away voting days from the military” vs. “giving the extra voting days back to everyone else. Of course, “giving the days back” wouldn’t be the end result if the suit is successful, as it would simply strip the three extra days from everyone.

UPDATE: (Jazz) It is already being noted that one potential remedy through the courts could be to extend the three days of voting back to everyone rather than taking it away from the exempted groups. And yes, that’s possible, but the first linked article certainly implies that it’s the least likely scenario. We shall see when a judge gets hold of it.

UPDATE 2: (Jazz) Thanks to a lot of help in the comments, one of the first bits of analysis I read on this situation doesn’t seem to pan out. It originally looked as if this was an “either or” situation, where the final result could either be going back to everyone voting up until Monday, nobody voting after Friday, or leaving things as they are. But, as Ed already noted, it seems that going to a situation where nobody votes after Friday isn’t even an option. My bad. So the choices are to leave things as they are or wipe out the idea of curtailing any voting on Friday at all. So I suppose the next question is, how badly did the state need to cut off voting on Friday for logistical reasons? And would it make more sense to simply have every day be a voting day right through Tuesday?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

This is a non-story, but I don’t have any problem with Republicans hammering democrats over this just like democrats are accusing Republicans of voter suppression when there is none. Indiana has had a voter ID law for years and it didn’t suppress the minority vote. End of story.

Wigglesworth on August 5, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Buy Danish on August 5, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Please learn to read before you come at me.

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Please learn to think before you type:

It’s not like they were going to come out in droves to vote democratic anyway…not with all the brainwashing by commanders and the Fox News viewing in every office.
StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Okay. Commanders who aren’t impressed with Barack “Corpsemen” Obama’s devotion to our military are brainwashing those brainless hicks in the military via teh eeevil Fox News. Fifty shades of John Kerry. That makes it so much better! My apologies for stating you made a “stupid” comment./

Buy Danish on August 5, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Buy Danish on August 5, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, StoneKrab.

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Stanley McChrystal. If this type of rhetoric was coming from the top, what do you think the brass below him are doing? The Air Force Academy teaches from a conservative viewpoint according to several cadets I’ve spoken to. Are all commanders republicans, no…but in my experience I’ve never met one that wasn’t. Hell, I’ve only met about 20 liberals in the military.

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Nothing?

lol

Ed, we need better trolls.

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 1:39 PM

So the choices are to leave things as they are or wipe out the idea of curtailing any voting on Friday at all. So I suppose the next question is, how badly did the state need to cut off voting on Friday for logistical reasons? And would it make more sense to simply have every day be a voting day right through Tuesday?

No. Not when the Dems openly bus voters over to polling stations. I saw them do it in 2008 at the community college I was attending at the time. Think they even exhumed a few graves from the local cemetery for good measure. They did it for weeks prior to Election Day.

The goal is to overwhelm the BOEs will so many votes, and to make it impossible for them to figure out which ones are legit and not legit. Ergo, if Mitt wins, O’s lawyers will contest the election, and vice versa.

Ohio’s revised rules were even tougher than this, but were repealed and re-instituted by the state legislature in order to sidestep a petition drive by the non-Ohio “We Are Ohio” (you remember, the same thugs who sank both Kasich’s approval and SB5?).

Myron Falwell on August 5, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Hahaha
Ohio is the most f-ed up state in the union, next to Kalifornia. Believe my I’ve spent my entire life here……….Ohio sucks…….. Just like our pResident in chief……………;-(

angrymike on August 5, 2012 at 11:56 AM

I take it you’ve never been to ILLinois? Or New YUCK?

Myron Falwell on August 5, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Finally! A conservative who understands that ALL Americans regardless of political stripes should be allowed to vote.

Um…yeah…..I’m gonna need you to never refer to me as a conservative again…that would be great. XD

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 1:05 PM

My Bad! It’s very difficult to find posters that make sense on this site. I thought I had finally hit a gold mine.

Will you agree to a HA poster that finally makes sense? :)

Uppereastside on August 5, 2012 at 1:40 PM

My Bad! It’s very difficult to find posters that make sense on this site. I thought I had finally hit a gold mine.

Will you agree to a HA poster that finally makes sense? :)

Uppereastside on August 5, 2012 at 1:40 PM

You dishonest, low information commenters need to stick together!

tom daschle concerned on August 5, 2012 at 1:43 PM

So Hawk…you are seriously gonna deny that this culture exists? So Fox News is NOT the channelof choice for the armed forces? So in your 34 years you’ve never heard a commander push a conservative talking point?

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 1:44 PM

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 1:38 PM

General McChrystal is your example of proof? He was and is an Obama supporter. I am glad that dust up occurred though. It would have been even better it it had had an effect on the freaking ROE that only supports the enemy.

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 1:46 PM

So Hawk…you are seriously gonna deny that this culture exists? So Fox News is NOT the channelof choice for the armed forces?

Not in the PX. Not in on-post offices where other government workers are. Mostly CNN, at Wmack Hospital, any soldier support office at one stop. CNN, dude.

In unit offices,sure, many commander’s watch Fox. In your experience, are the young troops allowed to hang with the CO watching TV all day? Go to their offices and they’re watching whatever the consensus of the office is.

So in your 34 years you’ve never heard a commander push a conservative talking point?

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 1:44 PM

I’ve also had many liberal commander’s defending Obama’s screwed up ROE.

Do you work with the military, or are you in the military?

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 1:54 PM

All veterans and current active duty troops should not give Obama one vote the way he is mis-treating them. Gutting the military budget, taking away combat pay for many in harm’s way, and now this, trying to supress voting in Ohio for the troops. Surely this will be fought and won for the troops. What is Obama and his team thinking? Not so sure the soldiers would watch his back if things get tough here and could not blame them. One term.

Amazingoly on August 5, 2012 at 1:55 PM

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 1:05 PM

My Bad! It’s very difficult to find posters that make sense on this site. I thought I had finally hit a gold mine.

Will you agree to a HA poster that finally makes sense? :)

Uppereastside on August 5, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Between the two of you, you haven’t had a cogent point yet. You should be applauding Tom Dashel Concerned instead for cleaning your clocks for you.

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I’m in. 10 years on 20 Aug but you and I seem to have a different experience. Fox News is on in the hospitals, the MPF, not the BX, and just about ALL the offices. Like I said before, I can honestly say I’ve never had a liberal cc.

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 2:01 PM

I’m in. 10 years on 20 Aug but you and I seem to have a different experience. Fox News is on in the hospitals, the MPF, not the BX, and just about ALL the offices. Like I said before, I can honestly say I’ve never had a liberal cc.
 
StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 2:01 PM

 
I’m just glad academia doesn’t have similar issues.

rogerb on August 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Can Republican Senators and Congressman fly over to where ever troops are stationed and pick their constituents ballots up for them?

It seems to be a mailing problem, which is inexplicable, when we know that Americans stationed in the U.S. fly every day to the war zones. Can’t they think hard about getting the ballots home, and figure it out?

Why is this always a problem?

Fleuries on August 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM

I’m in. 10 years on 20 Aug but you and I seem to have a different experience. Fox News is on in the hospitals, the MPF, not the BX, and just about ALL the offices. Like I said before, I can honestly say I’ve never had a liberal cc.

StoneKrab on August 5, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Thanks for your service.

As to your experience, being liberal in an environment like the military might seem one-sided because it very much leans conservative. But I think if you honestly looked around, the TVs do not all play Fox. If you went to the Soldier Support Center main post at Bragg, every tv that civilians are holding the remote for are watching CNN. Same at Womack. You can’t even ask them to change channels. Same at transportation. They have signs that say as much. And you cannot get me to believe that commanders are going out of their way to influence their subordinates to vote in any one particular manner. As I said, I’m been teh VA Officer for a spell and took the responsibility of objectivity very seriously.

I have a young medic I knew that just died in a mortar attack near J-Bad. Another hurt. In the year that the 82ND CAB has been in RC East this time around, they have not been about to use the Apaches for responding to a POO because the ROE considers it “Unobserved Indirect Fire”. That ROE comes from President Obama. I have posted the Facebook IM dialog I had with a former co-pilot the night they were getting mortared for the third time in a week at J-Bad and able to do nothing to react. I have even very liberal friends who serve, who voted for President Obama that were writing me during the primaries that they would vote for whomever the Republcian nominee was. What I know about the military is that they consider their vote a matter of life or death for themselves and who they serve with.

This story about suppression with Obama is still unclear. But there was no mistake with Gore’s intentions in Fl in 2000.

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Amazing how Hussein Obama sticks it to our military yet looks out for millions of illegal immigrants. It bears worth repeating …………….

He’s not one of us.

He is the polar opposite of what made this country so great, that includes having a president respected by our allies and feared by our enemies.

The same clown who arrogantly takes credit for what our military accomplished (“I killed Bin Laden”), turns his back on them when it comes to their right to vote. There’s a reason for taking this unprecedented position towards our fighting men and women.

Most of them hate his guts. All of them hold their tongues as their oath requires. He will not get their vote, Romney will, and our coward president knows it.

fogw on August 5, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 5, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Liar!! The democratic party is fighting for ALL Americans to vote and not just military personnel.

Lowereastside on August 5, 2012 at 1:08 PM

What was I “lying” about? Everything I cited in the 1:02 post you have your Pampers in a bunch over is Fact. Those stats came from the Defense Manpower Data Center.

Once again, here’s how the Democrats “fought” for the military voters in 2000, straight from the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/15/us/examining-the-vote-lieberman-put-democrats-in-retreat-on-military-vote.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Bush advisers point to the Herron memorandum as evidence of how hard the Democrats were willing to fight to exclude military votes. ”We knew that there was going to be a systematic effort by the Gore folks to not count military absentee ballots despite the claims that they were uttering at the time about count every vote,” said Benjamin L. Ginsberg, the Bush campaign’s chief counsel. ”We knew they were important ballots, they knew they were important ballots. We wanted all the ballots to count. They wanted the ballots not to count.”

In some ways, the Gore strategy paid off, as canvassing boards rejected hundreds of military votes that violated the law.

But the Gore camp was caught off guard — and never quite recovered — when the memorandum became public and the Bush organization used it as the centerpiece of a fierce public relations campaign featuring Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and other surrogates who accused Mr. Gore of turning on men and women in the armed forces.

-snip-

Several Democrats involved in the process said a turning point came 20 days after the election when Mr. Gore, resisting advice from some advisers, refused to challenge the counting of overseas absentee ballots in a lawsuit that contested Mr. Bush’s victory in Florida. Gore advisers who were pressing for the military matter to be included said they wanted to underscore the inconsistency of the Bush forces changing the standards for counting military votes while sticking to stricter rules elsewhere.

”People used to say, ‘Al Gore would do anything to win,’ ” said Michael Whouley, who helped run the Gore operation in Florida. ”But at the end of the day, he had a real chance at winning if he had taken these ballots on and if we had won the case. But he made a decision that it would not shine an honorable light on him.”

You must have been so proud of Gore.

And 6 years later, you threw Leiberman out of your Party. How tolerant!

F—

Del Dolemonte on August 5, 2012 at 2:31 PM

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 1:54 PM

In Pooky’s shop, this week it’s been MSNBC for the Olympics (listening to a bunch of geeks trying figure out the rules for water polo is entertaining), but the rest of the time, it’s CNN. At the BX, it’s Nickelodeon and CNN, unless something interesting is on ESPN. Overall, my experience has been that public TVs in military installations tend to be either CNN or Fox News.

Yeah, don’t get me started on budget cuts or ROE. Pretty sure “sailor words” would be used.

pookysgirl on August 5, 2012 at 2:41 PM

pookysgirl on August 5, 2012 at 2:41 PM

That’s been my observations also. Thank you for continuing to serve also.

OT: The wife and I always spelled it Pookie, but that’s my daughter’s nick-name. After Garfields Bear. Somehow we misspelled it from the start. But you can’t go back and change birthday cards. :-)

hawkdriver on August 5, 2012 at 2:49 PM

It seems to be a mailing problem, which is inexplicable, when we know that Americans stationed in the U.S. fly every day to the war zones. Can’t they think hard about getting the ballots home, and figure it out?

Fleuries on August 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM

That is indeed a problem, but has nothing to do with this news story.

AngusMc on August 5, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Just on what specific constitutional basis is this extension forbidden to the states? This is nuts. Perhaps Obama figures it violates the black & democrat dominated EEOC rule of disparate impact on blacks, thus violating the ’65 Civil Rights Act somehow with too many black votes effectively cancelled.

This administration is fooling no one here.

Chessplayer on August 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Have I fallen through the looking glass…Dems are trying to keep voters from the polls while the GOP wants more votes counted, I may be mistaken but the inverse is usually true right?

monttybaggs on August 5, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Exactly, Jazz. And thank you for a follow up on this. As I said in the original, this is a big deal. We have a CIC who is willing to throw our military under the bus. He doesn’t deserve our support. This lawsuit is a crock.

eaglesdontflock on August 5, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Exactly, Jazz. And thank you for a follow up on this. As I said in the original, this is a big deal. We have a CIC who is willing to throw our military under the bus. He doesn’t deserve our support. This lawsuit is a crock.

eaglesdontflock on August 5, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Your comment does not match Jazz’s update, which concluded that the lawsuit was not an attempt to limit military voting.

AngusMc on August 5, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Comment pages: 1 2