Romney campaign jabs at Obama over voting rights suit
August 4th, 2012
09:13 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney campaign jabs at Obama over voting rights suit

(CNN) - Mitt Romney lashed out Saturday against President Barack Obama's campaign and Democratic allies, who sued Ohio requesting the state’s early voting law apply equally to all voters, rather than only to military personnel and citizens who reside overseas.

Romney issued a statement calling the lawsuit an "outrage," and claimed the Democrats' lawsuit argues "it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state's early voting period."

But the lawsuit argues the additional three days of early voting afforded to military personnel and citizens who reside overseas should be opened to all voters. Obama's campaign on Saturday said Romney's criticism was "shameful" and based on a "fabricated" claim.

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The lawsuit involves a series of state laws that Democrats say will lead to "disparate treatment" in access to in-person early voting, according to a court document. It was filed on July 17 by Obama's campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio Democratic Party against the state's attorney general and secretary of state. The laws were passed by the Republican-led legislature and signed by the GOP governor, John Kasich.

At stake is the cutoff for pre-Election Day in-person early voting, which the state introduced after long lines and other issues plagued the state in the 2004 election. Under the new Ohio laws, registered voters who fall under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act may vote early, in person, through the day before Election Day, which is a Tuesday. But the last day for those who don't meet those criteria to vote in person is the Friday before Election Day - giving UOCAVA-eligible voters access to the polls on three days when others may not vote.

Many UOCAVA-eligible voters are members of the military, as the 1986 federal law covers "members of the United States Uniformed Services and merchant marine; their family members; and United States citizens residing outside the United States," according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The Democrats' lawsuit asks the court to find that the Friday deadline for non-UOCAVA voters violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, and to restore "in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters."

The lawsuit acknowledges the disparity involved "legislative confusion," but says, "at worst, the differential treatment has been influenced by partisan politics." Those who had served in the military voted 54% for Sen. John McCain and 44% for Obama in the 2008 election, according to CNN national exit polling data.

In a statement, Romney said: "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."

A representative of Obama's campaign - Obama for America Veterans and Military Family Vote Director Rob Diamond - responded with a statement on Saturday.

"Mitt Romney and his campaign have completely fabricated a claim that the Obama campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio," Diamond said. "In fact, the opposite is true: the Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to make sure every Ohioan, including military members and their families, has early voting rights over the last weekend prior to the election. The case filed with the court could not be clearer on this point."

Among the groups supporting Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine - and siding with Romney's position - are the National Guard Association of the United States, the Association of the U.S. Army, Association of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps League and Military Officers Association of America, according to court filings.

The groups filed with the court a motion to intervene, asking it to dismiss the case. As to the different voting provisions, the groups argued "it is both laudable and constitutionally appropriate for the State to do everything in its power to facilitate voting by military personnel in any form; the fact that similar arrangements are not offered to civilians does not render them unconstitutional."

The three additional days for UOCAVA-eligible voters meets the legal standard of having a "rational basis" and does not substantially burden others, the groups continued in their filing, as "the Ohio legislature reasonably could have concluded that military and overseas voters require special accommodation and flexibility in voting." Additionally, they contend the law does not discriminate based along the protected lines of "race, alienage, national origin, gender, [and] illegitimacy."

The suit says 29% of Ohio votes in 2008 were cast via absentee ballot, a number which included in-person early voting, and 93,000 voters cast ballots in the three days before Election Day.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

- CNN's Lindsey Knight contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Ohio • President Obama
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. g

    Romney what do you know about sacrifices? When your country needed you the most, you fled it's borders to a foreign country to hide out in a french chateau.

    August 4, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. mdf

    Shorter Obama: Keep early voting available to all Ohio voters!
    Shorter Romney: It's an outrage, and outrage I tell you, that Obama wants to eliminate early voting for our troops!

    August 4, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  3. labman57

    Mitt is showing increasing signs of desperation - he's now stealing the B.S. generated by the FOX News propaganda machine.

    August 4, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  4. dreucalypt

    The Romney campaign's complaint doesn't make any sense.

    August 4, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  5. g

    Romney you draft dodger! Cowardice is not a desired trait for a commander-in-chief.

    August 4, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  6. clemvinson71

    sounds like quid pro quo voting rights to me...

    Where is the bill protecting the thousands of minorities in cities like Cincinatti, Cleveland, Toledo and Dayton? Poor and minorities are routinely denied the right to vote in these cities every election cycle. In fact, GOP supporters routinely foot the bill to pay for auditors to find any excuse possible to disclude registered voters in urban areas. But, lord knows military and overseas travellers (both traditionally conservative voting blocs) need to be protected...

    quid pro quo... at its most blatant.

    August 4, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  7. ohio

    Mitt is really trying to put some spin on this one. I live in a very republican area of ohio and it us
    surprising how much less red this area is becoming. The W years were not kind to the GOP
    and there are lots of people here who are not voting GOP just because their parents did.
    I think this area will stay republican but i think the stronghold on 80 to 90 percent here is really
    slipping–and they know it.

    August 4, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. WiredweirdinSF

    Remember this is the same Obama regime that thought it was okay for Black Panthers to stand outside a polling place with clubs, and the same one that is fighting Voter ID in just about every state it is passed. I guess that in typical hypocritical liberal fashion, it is not really about the ability of people to vote it is about enhancing the strength of the democrat liberals. Remember all of the false ballots that SEIU/ACORN turned in that won the 2008 election for the most incompetent, corrupt, inept, union toady president we have ever had.

    August 4, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  9. Iamnotfooled

    Sounds like President Obama's suit is for everyone and Romney's is for the military only. What's wrong with everyone getting every opportunity to vote?. Sounds fair instead of denying people their right to vote, whenever they can make it to the polls.

    August 4, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Someone is going to have to take Mittens aside and point out what the lawsuit means, as he obviously is clueless.

    August 4, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Is Mittens just stupid, or is he the world's biggest liar?

    August 4, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Show us your taxes Mittens. Put up or shut up. What a low life the GOP has chosen for their candidate.

    August 4, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. chuck weidemann

    Romney,Cantor and the rest of the haters are desperate and it showes....pretty pathetic really!!! Twist fabricate.....flat out lie!!! Which one of Romneys opponents called him a liar? Was it Newt??? I find myself in agreement with the old goat for the first time in my life.....unbelievable!!!!

    August 4, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  14. Drew

    Is this really the best CNN can do in reporting the deliberate misrepresentation about the lawsuit by the Romney campaign? The lawsuit is a public record that anyone can read, and no reasonable, honest reader could interpret it the way Romney is spinning it.

    August 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  15. anthony76

    So making sure every Ohio voter has the same early voting rights as military personnel is now 'taking away the rights of military voters" ?

    Getting kinda desperate are we Romney?
    Hey America.. REMEMBER 2004 when they STOLE the election.. REMEMBER 2004....

    August 5, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. will never vote Republician again

    Romney will take everything from Americans and America!

    August 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  17. mathew

    Romney is good for big oil and big corporations, not for small business. I am sure small business owners are surprised by Romney's putting away of money in foreighn tax shelters.

    August 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  18. charles

    And yet the GOP belivers are blind to the truth. If it's in writing how can they say something opposite to what it says? Ah! It's because they believe the electorate is too stupid to check out their claims! Now I get it.

    August 5, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  19. enuff

    No one is trying to interfere with military voting rights. They are trying to make sure EVERYONe's voting rights are honored. Quit lying!

    August 5, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. wiz

    That's really really and I mean really just sad that mitt ant the Republicans have to do this …………SAD!

    August 5, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  21. dragonriders729

    Typical. Take some instance where the Dem's are trying to make a situation more fair & open for EVERYONE, not just some people, & the right wingnuts distort & lie & twist it until it says something totally different. How many times does this kind of thing have to happen until people wake up to the truth that the Grand Old Party isn't so Grand anymore. The party of Teddy Roosevelt, Ike, Abe, & even others like Bob Dole is GONE!!! What we are left with now is a shell of the former Party just trying to use it's power to enrich itself & it's wealthy puppetmasters. Sad, truly sad.

    August 5, 2012 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  22. pkbkr

    Another lie by the Romney team.....Obama/Biden 2012

    August 5, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  23. fernace

    Why is only the GOTP worried about the voting process & it's alleged fraud? If it was a bi-partisan concern, I'd hope it would be addressed & corrected! No1 wants to hear "fraud" in connection to "voting"! However, it's only the Repub/T-party who are "hyper vigilant" on this issue! Why is that? It seems they are scrambling to figure out a way, any way for their Mittens to win, including calling voters "fraudulent"! I'd say, try the Truth, for a change! It'll be something new, fresh, Unexpected! What have y'all got to lose! Oh yeah, the truth about the GOTP ideas is pretty grim! Nevermind!! Obama-2012!

    August 5, 2012 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  24. Marry

    Leave it to Romney and the GOP to misrepresent and distort something the Democrats do. And we do know how much the GOP wants “everyone” to vote! If they could now just get the names they do not like of the ballet – it would be perfect!

    August 5, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  25. Tim Moore

    Is all this obvious lying even legal? Show your taxes fool or shut up!

    August 5, 2012 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
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