Obama campaign and DNC sue Ohio Secretary of State over voting restrictions
President Obama’s re-election campaign, along with the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party, have sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted seeking to restore voting on the weekend before the presidential election, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
The suit, filed in federal court, seeks to reverse state Senate Bill 295, which only allows military personnel and their dependents to vote on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.
“Rather than protecting the right to vote, we’ve seen brazen attempts to undermine it,” DNC political director Patrick Gaspard told Politico. “It’s a cynical ploy.”
As The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported last week, Husted’s vote broke a tie between members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on whether to open board offices on the last two Saturdays and Sundays in October for voting.
The Plain-Dealer also noted that Husted made his vote without the usual step of waiting for board members to submit written arguments.
“I cannot create unequal access from one county board to another, but I must also keep in mind the resources available to each county,” Husted wrote in a letter to elections board director Jane Platten. “The reality is that local boards are operating under tight budget constraints on a day-to-day basis under their normal business hours. There is sufficient time already available during the Cuyahoga County board’s regular business hours for the casting of absent voters’ ballots in person.”
An analysis of voter tendencies during the 2008 election by The Dayton Daily News last year showed Democratic voters were “much more likely than Republicans” to vote early in the presidential election between Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and that Obama received “significantly more” early votes in the 2,830 counties tallied than McCain.
UPDATE: Obama for America-OH Senior Advisor Aaron Pickrell, the Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, and the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz have released the following statement:
“In 2004, before Early Voting was allowed in Ohio, voters faced disastrous conditions when they showed up to cast their vote on Election Day: widespread mismanagement, 7 hour long lines, and broken machinery. Many Ohioans waited in line for hours, while many others had to walk away.
“Then came Early Voting. For the past 7 years, Ohioans have been able to cast their votes before Election Day, ensuring that the broken system that silenced so many Ohio voters in 2004 would never happen again.
“Early Vote has proven to be an effective way for Ohioans to make their voices heard. In 2008, 30 percent of all votes were cast early, with nearly 93,000 people casting their ballot during the last three days of Early Voting.
“Now, Ohio Republicans are threatening that right. Last year, they passed HB 194, a law that restricted voting rights by drastically reducing Early Vote including the most important Early Voting days for most Ohioans – the 3 days leading up to Election Day.
“Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected this partisan attempt to restrict voting when they turned in 300,000 signatures last December, placing it on the ballot and forcing it to be suspended until Ohioans could vote on the measure this coming November.
“But voters never got the chance to make their voices heard. 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 last three days of Early Vote are especially important to ensuring a free and fair election. 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.”