Yesterday, Obama for America, President Obama’s official re-election campaign committee, filed suit against Ohio officials in federal court arguing that Ohio’s new limits on early voting are unconstitutional. The suit names two Republicans, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted, and seeks a court order invalidating recent statutes that change the last day of early voting.
The new limits on early voting create a disparity between two groups of Ohio voters. The last day of early voting for families of armed forces members and civilians overseas is the Monday before an election, while the last day for all other voters is the Friday before an election. November’s Presidential election will be held on a Tuesday.
“This lawsuit, at bottom, seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” Donald McTigue, general counsel for the Obama campaign in Ohio, said today on a conference call with reporters after the complaint was filed in federal court in Columbus, the state capital. [...]
The state’s early-voting laws were enacted after the presidential election in 2004, when long lines and broken equipment forced voters to wait as long as seven hours to cast their ballots, according to an Obama campaign press statement released today.
With Monday-deadline early voting in place for the 2008 presidential election, about 30 percent of voters took advantage of it, according to the campaign.
The different deadlines for early voting were instituted when the Republican-controlled legislature tried to undercut a state referendum that would have repealed HB 194, a controversial law that curtailed voting rights in the state. The law originally changed the last day of early voting for all voters to the Friday before an election, along with eliminating the requirement that poll workers direct voters to the proper precinct, and making it harder to vote absentee. When it appeared that the referendum was gaining steam, the legislature repealed some parts of the law in an attempt to subvert Ohio citizens’ constitutional right to referendum. The repeal eliminated the change in early voting, but, because the limit on early voting for everyone but families of armed forces members and civilians overseas had been duplicated in another bill, resulted in two different deadlines.