Battle over Ohio military voting law reflects high political stakes
obscure Ohio voting law is suddenly at the center of a nasty
dispute between the Obama and Romney campaigns -- months before Election Day,
in a case that underscores how the campaigns are poised to fight for every last
Obama campaign says its court challenge to Ohio's policy is about basic
fairness. The campaign objects to the state's two-tiered system allowing
members of the military to participate in early voting until the Monday before
Election Day, while everybody else faces a Friday deadline.
there's no denying the dispute is rich with political implications. In a close
race, the campaigns are preemptively fighting over a contest that could hold
electoral sway akin to Florida's in 2000.
think that everything that's been done, everything that's been said is
political, on both sides," said John Goheen, spokesman with the National
Guard Association of the United States, which, along with more than a dozen
other military groups, filed a motion opposing the Obama campaign's suit.
are a few relevant facts:
Polling consistently shows military members less keen on President Obama
WHY IS OBAMA TRYING TO STOP THE MILITARY FROM VOTING?
Gallup polling in May gave Mitt
Romney a 58-34 advantage over Obama among veterans.
Ohio has 18 electoral votes.
Obama narrowly won the state in 2008.
No Republican has won the presidency
without winning Ohio.
· Ohio's two-tiered system is
unusual. However, Ohio is hardly alone among
early voting states in making Friday the cutoff for most voters. Of the 32
states that allow early voting, most of them end that voting by the Friday
before the election. Only 11 states allow early voting until Monday.
why, then, the sudden attention on Ohio's voting law?
it's Ohio, said Steffen Schmidt, a political science
professor at Iowa State University.
is one of the states where you can't not punch back," Schmidt told
said he doubts this dispute -- over military members getting three extra days
to vote -- will amount to an election-deciding moment.
he said it shows how hyper-focused both campaigns are on just a handful of
battleground states, from the ads in those states to the court challenges over
suggested this could be risky business for the Obama campaign, since "you
don't ever want to really take on the military" or at least create that
impression. But he said that if the Obama campaign can put out the message that
other voters aren't getting a fair shake, it could end up energizing
non-military Obama supporters in the state.
the lawsuit -- and subsequent challenge from military groups -- has turned into
somewhat of a political Rorschach test.
campaign effectively accused Obama of objecting to military early-voting
privileges. Obama's campaign countered that, to the contrary, it merely wanted
to extend that lengthy period for everybody.
way Gov. Romney stated [the situation] is completely false," Obama
campaign adviser David Axelrod said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's
shameful that Gov. Romney would hide behind our service men and
campaign countered again, with counsel Katie Biber releasing a memo Sunday
defending the state of Ohio.
is not only constitutional, but commendable that the Ohio Legislature granted
military voters and their families this accommodation. It is despicable for the
Obama campaign to challenge Ohio's lawful decision,"
told FoxNews.com that, while military groups filed the motion in opposition to
the Obama campaign's suit, his association actually has no objection to making
Monday the cutoff for everybody.
said the association got involved mainly to make sure "our members in Ohio had a voice," and is
staying out of the politics of the dispute.
we don't want to see happen is a pullback of military voting rights to that
Friday," he said.
Ohio used to allow everybody to
vote until Monday, but Ohio's GOP-controlled
government changed the law and created the two-tiered system.
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