Ohio secretary of state: Why is the Obama campaign only suing us?

By Eric Johnson
July 20, 2012

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said on Thursday that a federal lawsuit filed against him by President Obama’s campaign and other Democrats is “misguided” and will lead to “confusion and the undermining of confidence in the election system.”

The Obama campaign and the Ohio and national Democratic parties on Tuesday filed the lawsuit against Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, both Republicans, seeking to reinstate in-person absentee voting for all Ohioans during the three days preceding November’s voting contest. Military voters and their families are exempt from the restriction, a distinction the campaign argues is unconstitutional.

“This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” said Bob Bauer, an attorney for Obama for America.

Husted would not comment on the political calculus behind the lawsuit but asked rhetorically: “Why isn’t it a problem in the 49 other states where they do the same kinds of things?”

Husted said there is no undue burden on Ohioans casting ballots and said the change, which was enacted last year, was made to synchronize the voting windows across all Ohio counties.  Previously in Ohio, the local elections boards decided which days to stay open prior to a voting contest.

“Any Ohioan can start voting in person starting 35 days out before the election and for the first time ever we are sending every registered voter in the state an absentee ballot application in early September,” Husted told Reuters. “We are doing a lot of things to expand opportunities [to vote] while at the same time protecting the integrity of the system. You need those last few days for the board of elections to synchronize the voting file so you know people only voted once.”

A senior Democratic official in Ohio called the ban voter suppression but rejected the idea that the lawsuit is meant to bolster the Obama campaign’s “72-hour strategy,” which was key to Obama’s turnout operation four years ago, when he won Ohio by 4 percentage points.

In 2008, Democrats bussed voters to polling sites, and on the weekend before Election Day, long lines formed at the Board of Elections building in the Democratic stronghold of Cuyahoga County, as described in The Plain Dealer, a Cleveland newspaper.

“It is essential for Ohio voters to have access to polls,” said the senior Democratic official who declined to be named. “What the Republicans have done in Ohio has left one of the most damaging portions of their voter disenfranchisement scheme on the books. It has made it tougher to vote. It has set up different standards, time restrictions, and deadlines for voters.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern argued that the three days are needed for voters of all stripes, noting that 30 percent of all votes were cast early in 2008, with nearly 93,000 people voting during the final three days before Election Day.

Husted, who could not confirm Redfern’s figures, said that if the law were to be struck down, it would “revert back to the old system where some counties could be open and some counties would not be open. So you really have an equal protection issue at that point in terms of equal access to the ballot within the state of Ohio among the average Ohio voter.”

15 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

“Husted said there is no undue burden on Ohioans casting ballots and said the change, which was enacted last year, was made to synchronize the voting windows across all Ohio counties.”

What problem is this synchronicity supposed to solve?

Posted by RexMax46 | Report as abusive

As a swing state that will likely be decided by a small margin, Obama hopes to cement a victory by encouraging maximum vote fraud. It speaks volumes about his ethics.

Posted by actnow | Report as abusive

obama only picks fights where he thinks he can win.
Please vote this turkey out!

Posted by 22Hank | Report as abusive

Actnow….with all due respect, can you please evidence that Obama Campaign are or have been engaged in voter fraud.

I respect your right to disagree with Obama’s campaign efforts, but you have a responsibility to provide evidence when you level such serious charges. Your words speak largely about who you are as person. Yet, you failed to provide any facts or evidence to back up your statements. So,I can only concluded, as you did, your words speak volumes about your ethics.

Posted by PortlandME | Report as abusive

Republicans in Ohio have made serious efforts to impede legitimate opposing voters including reducing the number of voting machines in districts known to vote democratic in Ohio, and to make registering voters difficult by overly restrictive limitations on of all things the paper stock weight allowed for registration. The pettiness of efforts to prevent voter participation is pretty obviously targeted at those most likely to have less free time for getting registered or to the polls without help, which can only be intended to exclude valid citizens who do not support the republicans. Such measures are being challenged in other states, though perhaps not by the Obama campaign directly as yet. Ohio has done it in presidential campaigns though. Voter fraud as cited by the political right is vapid and anecdotal lately, with less actual verified fraud events than can possibly justify the draconian measures they seem to want to impose. There are no statistics to back up the fraud claims they keep making.

Posted by ClutchCargo | Report as abusive

@actnow:
You must have graduated from the “Michele Bachmann” School of Ethics. What a quackadoodle !!!

Posted by datstratham | Report as abusive

thats why we have 50 states, and btw not all will have “laws” like Chicago, jus’ sayin’

Posted by justinolcb | Report as abusive

PortlandME the evidence you’re looking for is the now defunct Acorn : During the 2008 election season, ACORN gathered over 1.3 million voter registration forms in 21 states. Some of these registration forms were flagged by ACORN’s internal auditors for review by election officials. It was estimated by Project Vote that 400,000 registrations collected by ACORN were ultimately rejected, the vast majority for being duplicate registrations – wikipedia.org

Posted by justinolcb | Report as abusive

Then all they care about is votes. I am so dissapointed – I ran to the ACLU for help with my child in Massachusetts who was getting hurt on the bus by the bus driver in Chicopee, MA Acuna and the old monitor I don’t know her name. They were hurting my child through a person of whome they picked up and then let hurt my son only to dropp him off at the school and tell us they diden’t know what happened nor did they know why my son was acting up! Then the City of Chicopee, MA MAyor Bessenette tried to press charges agains me because I wanted to have the bus driver pressed against charges and so forth. The State woulden’t do anything for me nor would the office of discrimination in Springfield help nor would the office in DC help out either. I’m related to a president – but hey a Republican President. ACLU wanted to hire me down in NC and they wanted me to work for OBAMA in OHIO – wow – but they won’t enforce anything? My child was abused in Chicopee – nothing done about it – why?

Posted by PetrinaHahn | Report as abusive

I like the idea of synchronization. In fact, I’ve always thought that ALL voting booths should be open the *exact* same timeframe for Presidential elections across the USA. Example: *ALL* voting booths from Maine to Hawaii should be open from 7am to 8pm E.S.T. and widespread opportunities for early voting either directly at every county election office or proxy voting in the month leading up to election day. By posting signs at every local government office, all US post offices, multiple periodic announcements in the local newspapers and local and national TV stations starting in January of the election year would be plenty of notice and early warning for EVERYone.

Interstate synchronization of Presidential elections makes sense to me. Doing so would prevent one state’s results from influencing the swing votes in another –and minimize voter fraud.

Of course, I’ve also always thought we should do away with electoral votes and just have the popular vote. Not likely to happen, but something that would validate MY vote actually being counted.

Neither of these change are likely to happen in my lifetime… but I can dream, can’t I?

Posted by backtothefuture | Report as abusive

Why is Obama suing in Ohio? Because today’s Rasmussen Reports Poll has Romney at 46% and Obama 43%. The fraudulent votes ARE needed by Democrats!

Posted by djt3175 | Report as abusive

Don’t feel bad Ohio Republicans. The Obama administration loves to sue any and all State endeavors that are designed for the greater good. If his administration spent half as much time on sound and well timed policies as they do suing the states we’d probably be much farther along in our National recovery. But, hey the Emperor has his agenda and priorities. They’re convoluted to say the least, but at least we know why we are where we are today.

Posted by QuidProQuo | Report as abusive

It’s funny how you need a valid ID to buy beer, get onto an airplane, cash a check, enter a night club and on and on. But somehow, when your voting for the President of the United States, you should get a free pass from having a valid identification. The point is clear. Liberal Democrats are playing the race card to hi-jack our democracy. It’s an affront to all responsible Americans, minorities or not.

Posted by actnow | Report as abusive

How is that funny? You need a valid ID to buy beer because we don’t sell alcohol to minors. You need a valid ID to get on a plane because we want to know who you are before you enter an aircraft. You need a valid ID to cash a check because it might not be written out to you. You need a valid ID to get into a night club because, here again, we do not sell alcohol to minors. All of these things you have mentioned are safeguards put in place to minimize the occurrence of harm being done to oneself or others. How exactly does voting harm others? If you look at the results of putting voter ID laws in place you will see that a large proportion of certain demographics are then not allowed to vote. This is the objective, it has nothing to do with safety and if you come at me with the ignorant argument of “voter fraud” then I will ask you to prove how many occurrences of voter fraud have taken place in the entire history of this voting system. I am beginning to expect that a majority of Americans are complete failures when it comes to being able to validate information or think critically about issues. You can claim “Liberal Democrats play the race card” all day long but it just shows the rest of us that the only card you have to play is the ignorant moron card. What a pathetic excuse for a human being.

Posted by Obsilutely | Report as abusive

“How exactly does voting harm others?” You are joking right? If an idiot or extremely crooked individual (not just the standard crooked politician) gets voted in then they can do extreme damage and it has happened before from the municipal to the national levels. I agree that one should be required to prove their identity before voting for the people who will be governing our country.

Posted by texan5555 | Report as abusive