Obama campaign sues over Ohio’s cutoff date for early voting
July 17th, 2012
10:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama campaign sues over Ohio’s cutoff date for early voting

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's campaign says it has sued Ohio's secretary of state over early-voting provisions in the Buckeye State.

The campaign wants the state to return to laws it had in 2008, prior to when the state underwent myriad election reforms under a Republican-controlled legislature.

At issue is a provision in the state’s election law that eliminates the final three days before Election Day - Saturday, Sunday and Monday - from the voting calendar. While early voting begins 35 days ahead of time (and 45 days for those in the military or overseas), Democrats argue the final weekend marks a crucial window of time for voters to head to the polls.

The campaign said 30% of all votes cast in 2008 came early, with 93,000 cast in the final three days before Election Day.

In a joint statement between Obama Ohio adviser Aaron Pickrell, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrats railed against the measure as a "partisan attempt to restrict voting."

“Through a series of legislative maneuvering concluding with a bill passed this May, Republicans were able to remove the last three days of Early Voting for the vast majority of Ohio voters, a cynical move that is both unfair and unjust,” the statement read.

Republicans, however, argue that those three days are necessary to have clear in order to prepare for Election Day.

“You need those last three days for the local (election) boards to get their records straight,” Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, told CNN. “Make sure their voting rolls are accurate.”

Husted argued the new provision only makes Ohio voting more consistent, saying in the past the state lacked uniformity across all counties, meaning some areas chose to be open in the final weekend, while others were closed.

The provision allowing the end of the three-day window first passed under an omnibus election reform law in 2011. Voters grew upset with other provisions in that law, so the legislature drafted a new bill to repeal that law in May before voters could vote on the measure in a scheduled referendum this November.

However, the new law passed in May retained the three-day window ban, prompting complaints from Democrats.

Husted made the case that it’s “extremely easy” to vote in Ohio and highlighted the 35-day early voting time period, or “790 hours” as he put it, available for voters to cast their ballot. The state has also made it possible, he noted, for every voter to vote by absentee ballot “from the comfort of their own home.”

Opponents, he said, don’t want an “accountability system,” one that “requires some level of personal responsibility to take initiative to get to the polls” or request an absentee ballot.

“To me, it seems pretty easy to vote if you really care about who your president is going to be,” he said.

The state GOP echoed his sentiments, saying the provision that passed under the initial law had support from both parties last year.

"Democrats' outcry now is a just another circus sideshow,” Republican Chairman Bob Bennett said in a statement. “It's confusing for Democrats to be suing over this when they supported it in the first place. Nobody is being disenfranchised here, as Ohio's voters who choose to vote early can do so by mail 24 hours a day, seven days a week or at early voting polls.”

But Obama’s campaign argues that it is standing up for thousands of voters who could take advantage of that final weekend before Election Day.

“The last three days of Early Vote are especially important to ensuring a free and fair election,” the campaign's statement read. “That is why today, we are moving forward in the fight to reinstate the last 3 days of Early Voting and ensure that all Ohio voters can make their voices heard this November.”

Ohio represents a crucial battleground state in the presidential election. Both candidates have made several visits to the Buckeye State in recent weeks, with Mitt Romney scheduled to appear at a campaign event in Bowling Green outside of Toledo on Wednesday - two days after Obama visited Cincinnati on Monday.

The suit, Obama for America v. Husted, was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio.

Filed under: 2012 • Ohio • President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Another white lie

    Screw early voting. Just another way to open up roads for voter fraud.

    July 17, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  2. Ins1te

    Gotta love all the reforms that never crossed their minds when Bush was in office. Now all of a sudden we need voter IDs and less days to vote. Stay classy GOP.

    July 17, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  3. Larry L

    One thing you can be certain... All over the nation where Republican-controlled states are conducting some sort of "voter reform" it's only about creating an advantage for Republican candidates at the polls. Here in Texas we gerrymandered away democracy – creating districts created by computer models to best weaken Democrats and to ensure a Republican majority forever. Tom DeLay's time in prison gave him time to think about that crime – but the damage was done. When Republicans want to "help" voters – that means angry, white, bigoted voters. It's their base.

    July 17, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  4. Max

    Minority focus

    Republicans in states with 'REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS' are doing everything possible to ensure that minorities in particular who vote overwhelming for democrats, don't get a fair chance to make their voices heard...it is obvious that they realize the the democrats hold the advantage with these voters and they are trying to curb such advantage.

    Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio are examples in point...please don't let us restart the civil war (for civil rights). This is a war we already won decidedly!

    These schemes in these sates ALL have the same objective: To prevent minorities from voting. Hello, we are paying attention, Just so you know.

    July 17, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  5. Name bullock

    I warning ohio that I heard about white house blast study crictial of obama tax plan

    July 17, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  6. Len

    Yes the GOP will again to try to steal another election in Ohio. 2004 all over again......U

    July 17, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  7. antony

    Gop want to make sure obama people never vote

    July 17, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  8. Patrick from Minnesota

    Republicans trying to downsize democracy? **Yawn** What else is new?

    July 17, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. CNN The Masters of Spin

    Scratching for every "illegal" vote he can get.......Obama really is just angry @ God cause He has not given Obama credit for all the great stuff he (Obama) has done!

    July 18, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  10. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    These Republicans whine about everything, but want to cheat 100's of thousands by not allowing them to vote!

    July 18, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  11. normajean @ verizon ,com

    I have voted in ten presidential elections...............Same state.,..different cities and I have never been asked for a photo ID .... Everyone with half a working brain knows this is a way to get the votes the party wants no matter who gets left out. This is cheap,nasty and shows a total lack of character on the part of the Republicans. Many past presidents would turn over in their graves if they knew that politics had come to this. It's sad when whether a man has what it takes to be a good,conscientious,working president isn't important to the party that for power reasons will put just"anybody" into the office...........We have sold our souls and we WILL pay the price!!!!

    July 18, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  12. cac

    The Democrats should be spending their money getting the word out about these changes. The stupid people of Ohio probably don't know they won't be able to vote during these three days.

    Republicans win when the ignorant vote!

    July 18, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Nothing to see here. Just some democrats whining about disenfrancisment. Also: why can't the early voters put their ballots in 3 days early? And dosen't Obama have better things to do that cry foul? Obama is like a good center fielder, he is always moving his position to get votes.

    July 18, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Now there is sad, ther is worse, then there is this guy. Suing a state for three days of voting is juust pathetic, especially if you are doing it just for the votes.

    July 18, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  15. Eddie

    There is nothing wrong with this, this goes both ways. This makes it look like Obama supporters are careless and irresponsible. Ridiculous argument

    July 18, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  16. J.V.Hodgson

    One has to wonder why a system that worked in 2008 needed a new law in 2011 that got kicked, but then in May this year they stick with the 3 day restriction... it's nonsense especially when a referndum was planned in November.
    There's the knub, Republicans clearly believe it benefits them.
    Voting is one of the basic freedoms and is sufficient justification for having federal laws governing voting for any national representational body = House, Senate, or Presidency. Any changes in the curent election year for President etc can always be challenged as gerry mandering. QED consider also Florida and others. It is pathethetic and shameful and I dont care which party does it, at state level.

    July 18, 2012 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  17. Jerry

    Here we go again! "My way or the highway. Also, I have legal services (Hold-her) and taxpayer money at my disposal. So, no matter what, Ohio, you are going to pay dearly. I WILL win at any cost."

    I really, really hope Ohioans remember come election time.

    July 18, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  18. acdcguy

    Another lawsuit, nice.......the master of misdirection.......look over here so we can take your mind of the economy, fast and furious, 16 trillion in debt, obamacare, and on and on and on..................

    July 18, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  19. Out Of Touch with reality

    hey obama, simple answer to your case, NO!

    July 18, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    So, they are restricting the time people can vote? That is unAmerican. We need to expand the ways citzens can vote. We need to get everyone to vote because it is something that is a part of America. We should be embarressed as Americans that a high turn out is only 65% or so. We need that to be a low number for turn out.

    July 18, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  21. Montykoolaid

    A republican governor is actually on video gleefully saying how their new voting restrictions are going help Romney win. That's disgusting.

    GOP slogan for 2012:

    Making it harder to vote, because its the only chance we have.

    July 18, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  22. ghost

    Win at all cause. That is Mitt's creed as well as the Repugs. Hook or Crook

    July 18, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  23. Name

    I thought obama wanted to help the states and look he's going to sue ohio and arizona and that's just the two that I know of. Its time for a new president

    July 18, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  24. Donkey Party

    More blatant attempts at voter suppression from the domestic terrorist GOP. Very un-American.

    July 18, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |