In an effort to raise money from conservatives, Josh Mandel, the Republican candidate for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat, is falsely accusing President Obama of “trying to suppress the military vote.” Even in a political environment awash in hard-hitting and often misleading charges, the accusation stands out as a flat-out lie.
“President Obama and the Democratic National Committee are trying to suppress the military vote in Ohio,” writes Mandel in a fundraising email sent Monday afternoon to conservative activists and obtained by Lean Forward. Mandel trails the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, in polls of the race.
The email goes on to quote a report in the right-wing news outlet Newsmax:
In a move that could have an impact on the final result of the presidential election, Barack Obama’s campaign has sued Ohio to block a measure which extends early voting for members of the military.
“As a veteran, this absolutely makes my blood boil,” Mandel adds, before asking for money.
The reality is very different. As we explained earlier this month when Mitt Romney tried to make his own political hay out of the episode, the Obama campaign is challenging a Republican-backed measure that scrapped the last three days of early voting for everyone except military voters. But rather than asking that early voting for service-members be cut too, the suit seeks to restore the last three days of early voting for all voters. (You can see for yourself by reading the Obama campaign’s brief [pdf]. The relevant excerpt is at the bottom of page 4).
In other words, if the Obama campaign’s lawsuit succeeds, military voting will be unaffected, while voting will be made easier for non-military Ohioans. To claim, as Mandel does, that Obama is ”trying to suppress the military vote” is a flat-out lie.
It’s worth recalling some of the background here, too. The law the Obama campaign is challenging, which got rid of the last three days of early voting for everyone but the military, was signed last year by Republican Gov. John Kasich. Republicans went ahead with the new law even though in 2008, over 93,000 people took advantage of those last three days to vote, and despite the fact that, as Rachel Maddow recounted in detail, excessive wait times at urban polling places on Election Day 2004 had led to a congressional report (pdf) urging reform.
It’s bad enough that Ohio Republicans are making it harder for Democratic-leaning groups to vote. That they’re also making up a lie about Obama suppressing the military vote is mind-bogglingly cynical.
A spokesman for the Mandel campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.