This past weekend the Romney campaign posted on Facebook that the Obama campaign is seeking to restrict voting rights for members of the military in Ohio. Not only is this patently false, but Romney’s lie covers up the fact that he supports SB 295, a policy that would restrict early voting for all Ohioans, including over 900,000 veterans.
Let’s back up for a second. Since 2005, Ohio has had in-person early voting three days prior to the election. If you’re a worker who pulls double shifts, a senior without reliable transportation, or a disabled veteran with limited mobility, these early voting days are essential for making your voice heard at the voting booth.
Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature passed HB 194, which removes those early voting days for everyone in the state. Ohioans were outraged, and collected thousands of signatures to get a repeal of the law on the ballot. Republicans in the legislature, embarrassed, repealed their own law, but sneakily kept another voting restriction, SB 295, in place. SB 295 ends early voting for those three crucial days prior to an election. The only people not affected are active duty military, because of a federal law called Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA).
Now the Obama campaign is suing the state of Ohio because SB 295 literally takes the opportunity to vote from thousands of Ohioans (93,000 voted early in Ohio in 2012). And in a perversion of the truth that has become a Romney trademark, the Romney campaign is claiming that this lawsuit is in fact targeting members of the military!
“Mitt Romney is living in Bizzaro-world,” Iraq War veteran and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) told reporters this morning, “He’s trying to suppress votes all over the country, and then he lies and accuses Obama of the same thing.”
He added: “He’s trying to pull the wool over our eyes and use our veterans as props.”
This is truly politics at its worst. The truth is irrelevant to the Romney campaign; what they really want is headlines across the country saying that Obama is trying to hurt members of the armed forces. To them, it’s not important that in over a dozen states, because of restrictions on voting rights passed in the last two years, veterans who served our country with honor and distinction are being kept from choosing their representatives – and our next Commander in Chief.
Unlike Romney, we don’t have to “imagine” a situation where military votes are being restricted. We’ve already seen them in action: a Wisconsin Air Force veteran kept from using his VA card as voter ID, World War II veterans in their 90’s arbitrarily purged from voter rolls in Florida, or the Pennsylvania veteran refused state-issued voter ID after an hour-long drive to the nearest PennDOT center. The coordinated GOP attack on voting rights is real, and is being executed “with the precision of a joint military strike,” in the words of Iraq War veteran and former Rep. John Boccieri.
Here’s the bottom line: If the Obama campaign succeeds in this lawsuit, early voting access will be extended to everyone in Ohio; that includes veterans, active duty service members, military families, and anyone else who is registered and over 18.
If the position held by the Romney campaign prevails, and SB 295 is in effect, all Ohioans, including over 913,000 veterans and thousands more military family members, will lose access to early voting. And for many of them, including seniors and disabled veterans with limited mobility, that means losing access to voting, period.
This isn’t opinion, this isn’t spin, and this isn’t Working America trying to cover the Obama campaign. If anything, the Romney campaign is using members of our Armed Forces as political cover while they support policies that make it harder and harder to cast a ballot in this country.
As VoteVets.org Chairman Jon Soltz wrote: “My question for Mitt Romney is simple: ‘Why won’t you join the Obama lawsuit in Ohio, and protect our veterans’ right to vote?’”