Fight over voting rights sharpens in Ohio

Fight over voting rights sharpens in Ohio
Fight over voting rights sharpens in Ohio

Four years ago, Ohio allowed voters an early-voting window of three days before Election Day, which in turn boosted turnout and alleviated long lines. This year, Republican officials have closed the window – active-duty servicemen and women can vote early, but no one, not even veterans, can enjoy the same right.

President Obama’s campaign team has filed suit, urging a federal court to level the playing field, giving every eligible Ohio voter equal access. For Mitt Romney, this means Obama is trying to “undermine” the troops’ voting rights – an idiotic and dishonest claim that the Republican campaign couldn’t even begin to defend.

But the lie is spreading like a cancer. Here’s RNC Chairman Reince Priebus last night:

A tip for Reince: try not to call someone a “dirty liar” and then get caught lying on the same day.

In the meantime, the legal controversy is advancing. Yesterday, the federal court hearing the case agreed to allow 15 military groups to intervene in the lawsuit, a move backed by Obama’s team.

Also yesterday, some prominent veterans stepped up to condemn Romney’s ridiculous smear. “Obviously with the narrative the Romney campaign is pushing, they probably don’t have a lot of people around them who have actually served,” said’s Jon Soltz. “We also agree, like the president does, that someone who served in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge or someone who lost their legs in Vietnam has just as much of a right to vote as today’s veteran.”

For his part, Romney is arguing active-duty servicemen and women sacrifice so much, “we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.” It led Jon Chait to ask a very good question: “If the ability to get to the polls is the ‘fundamental right to vote,’ then why shouldn’t all eligible citizens enjoy that right?”