Could Obama’s efforts to strike down military voting extension cost him election?
posted at 3:06 pm on August 4, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
It is no secret that Barack Obama never served in the military. In fact, he doesn’t seem to be that big a fan of our men and women in uniform (at least the ones who aren’t gay). And unless pictures lie, the feeling is mutual.
One retired Army officer so dislikes Obama’s policies toward the military that he has publicly stated his view that the president is “undeserving of the title Commander-in-Chief.” That would be Congressman Allen West, who wrote on his Facebook page:
I am appalled at the Obama administration’s actions to bring a lawsuit against the State of Ohio for the early voting privileges it extends to our Men and Women serving in uniform. To have the Commander in Chief make our US Servicemen and Women the target of a political attack to benefit his reelection actions is reprehensible. The voting privilege extended to these Warriors who represent the best among us should not be a part of the collective vision of this inept President who is more concerned about his reelection than sequestration. As a Combat Veteran, for this President to unleash his campaign cronies against our Military is unconscionable… how dare this President compare the service, sacrifice, and commitment of those who Guard our liberties not as special and seek to compare them to everyone else.
The lawsuit West alludes to was filed jointly in mid-July by the Obama for America campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Ohio Democratic Party. Its purpose was to strike down part of an Ohio law that grants members of the military an extra three days to cast their votes.
The Daily Caller’s Holly Bensur cites a report by the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program specifying the primary “reason for military voter disenfranchisement” and that is “inadequate time to successfully vote.” The report was sent to the president and Congress, but Democrats nevertheless wrote in a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that the law is “arbitrary” and possesses “no discernible rational basis.”
The president and his minions have a point. Why should individuals who put their lives in harm’s way to defend the nation deserve special treatment? If they can’t get to a polling place in a timely fashion like the rest of us, that’s their problem.
Naturally, the question of why Obama is taking such an unfeeling position arises. He will claim it’s in the interests of fairness. Cynics will argue that it is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise members of a voting bloc in a critical swing state whose ballots are likely to favor Obama’s opponent.
But if his motivation is the latter, then consider two facts: (1) Ohio, according to the 2010 census, has only 8,261 active military personnel. (2) In 2008, Obama carried 44% of the military vote nationally. Even if every service member in Ohio is registered to vote (which is unlikely) and even if the vote is distributed in proportions identical to 2008, his actions will block a little over 4,600 votes.
It could be a meaningful difference in a state he needs in his column to win a second term. But it could also create epic backlash if the 1,088,465 service members nationwide vote in solidarity with their Buckeye State brethren, not to mention the countless millions of civilians who are staunch supporters of our fighting men and women.
One things that’s for sure is that the story, with its negative optics for the president, isn’t going away. The Marine Corps Times reports that a consortium of 15 military groups, including AMVETS, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Association of the U.S. Army, have asked the judge in the case to dismiss the suit. Regardless of the outcome, Obama stands to lose the vote—and respect—of many.
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