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Mitt Romney Completely Misrepresents Obama Lawsuit Over Ohio Early Voter Law

As I noted earlier today, the Obama campaign (along with other parties) have filed a lawsuit challenging a change in Ohio law that limits the length of early voting in Ohio for all voters except members of the military and their families. Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney is hitting Obama on the topic. Also, not surprisingly, he’s completely misrepresenting the lawsuit:

Mitt Romney lashed out Saturday against President Barack Obama’s campaign and Democratic allies, who sued Ohio requesting the state’s early voting law apply equally to all voters, rather than only to military personnel and citizens who reside overseas.

Romney issued a statement calling the lawsuit an “outrage,” and claimed the Democrats’ lawsuit argues “it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period.”

The Obama camp shot back against Romney’s argument:

Obama’s campaign blasted Romney for misreading the lawsuit.

“Mitt Romney and his campaign have completely fabricated a claim that the Obama campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio,” said Rob Diamond, Obama’s veterans and military family vote director. “In fact, the opposite is true: The Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to make sure every Ohioan, including military members and their families, has early voting rights over the last weekend prior to the election.”

I wouldn’t call it misreading, I would call it misrepresenting. Because, all one has to do is look at the prayer for relief in the Complaint and, at the very end, one will find this:

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request of this Court the following equitable relief:

A. An order declaring that lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03(I) in HB 224, which amended Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 by changing the deadline for in-person early voting from the close of business on the day before Election Day to 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, and the SB 295 enactment of  Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution;

B. A preliminary and permanent order prohibiting the Defendants, their respective agents, servants, employees, attorneys, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them, from implementing or enforcing lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03 (I) in HB 224, and/or the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, thereby restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters

In others words, whatever you think of the lawsuit, the assertion that the Obama campaign is seeking to take voting rights away from members of the military is, quite simply, absurd. They are making the argument that there is no rational basis for giving in-state military voters a preference over any other Ohio voters and asking the court to restore the status quo ante under which all Ohio voters could vote early right up to the day before the election. And, so far, I think it’s pretty clear that they have the better legal argument.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mittens a liar? Say it isn’t so!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

  2. Bob Gavin says:

    The only reason Obama would file this suit is because Ohio is a swing state and he knows the military will vote against him. Period. And he has just lost Ohio.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 68

  3. de stijl says:

    Doug,

    Misrepresenting? Why not just say he’s lying?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  4. Dave E. says:

    I can see how a court should vacate the special privilege, but on what basis would it be entitled to remedy the situation by extending the special privilege to everyone? Doesn’t that step on Ohio’s constitutional “time, place, and manner” constitutional rights?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 18

  5. anjin-san says:

    Jared Diamond ripped Romney for misrepresenting his work in a recent speech:

    Mitt Romney’s latest controversial remark, about the role of culture in explaining why some countries are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak, has attracted much comment. I was especially interested in his remark because he misrepresented my views and, in contrasting them with another scholar’s arguments, oversimplified the issue.

    It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

    That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it.

    http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  6. Gustopher says:

    Were you expecting better of him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  7. Michelle says:

    @Dave E.: I think you have it backwards. Everyone could vote early before the law change. Then the law changed and gave the members of the military a “special privilege” .

    Do try to keep up. Even Special Ed of Hot air has — his commenters, not so much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  8. Dave E. says:

    @Michelle: Spare me your snottiness and actually provide a legal argument if you can.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 22

  9. Dave E. says:

    @Michelle: You do realize that everyone can still vote early for a month, don’t you?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  10. Lit3Bolt says:

    Patiently awaiting the “Mitt Romney is a Terrible, Terrible, Person” post…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  11. al-Ameda says:

    This is what Romney does – he lies and misrepresents constantly.
    Romney believes in nothing but getting elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  12. de stijl says:

    From Politico:

    Romney’s spokesman, Ryan Williams, in an interview Saturday could point to no place in Obama’s lawsuit that seeks to restrict the rights of military voters. Romney, Williams said, takes offense at Obama’s legal argument that the Ohio law unfairly creates two classes of voters, military and civilian, in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

    Romney’s legal counsel, Katie Biber, said creating two separate classes of Ohio voters does not violate the 14th Amendment, though she also did not offer evidence that Obama’s lawsuit would make it tougher for members of the military to vote.

    (emphasis is mine)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  13. de stijl says:

    creating two separate classes of Ohio voters does not violate the 14th Amendment

    IANAL – How can this be true? Is it BS, or does Biber have a leg to stand on?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. de stijl says:

    @Dave E.:

    You do realize that everyone can still vote early for a month, don’t you?

    You do realize that military members get three extra days of in-person early voting than any other Ohioan, don’t you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dave E.:

    Dave, please spare me your absolute utter….

    No no, Tom, be nice now, just point out that Michelle does not need to present a legal argument as the Obama administration has quite nicely done that for her.

    A legal argument that Dave has rather conveniently ignored, probably because his own legal expertise is quite nonexistent…. As is his brain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @ de stijhl

    “…Misrepresenting? Why not just say he’s lying?”

    To supporters it’s misrepresenting.
    To everyone else it’s lying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  17. D.W.Robinson says:

    Big Government says filing suit to end an extra three day voting grace period extended as a courtesy to our military won’t restrict their voting period by those extra three days, somehow.

    And you all parrot this distortion without thought.

    Truly Orwellian.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  18. de stijl says:

    @D.W.Robinson:

    Big Government says filing suit to end an extra three day voting grace period extended as a courtesy to our military won’t restrict their voting period by those extra three days, somehow.

    From the complaint (i.e., Obama):

    thereby restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters

    In other words, all Ohioans, including military members, will be able to vote early for the three days in question.

    You need to find better media sources than Big Government. They are lying to you. On purpose.

    Let me be very clear. When the Complaint says this:

    WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request of this Court the following equitable relief:

    A. An order declaring that lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03(I) in HB 224, which amended Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 by changing the deadline for in-person early voting from the close of business on the day before Election Day to 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, and the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution;

    B. A preliminary and permanent order prohibiting the Defendants, their respective agents, servants, employees, attorneys, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them, from implementing or enforcing lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03 (I) in HB 224, and/or the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, thereby restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters

    and Big Government says that means that Obama is trying to take away three days away from the military early voting, THEY ARE LYING TO YOU.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  19. D.W.Robinson says:

    @de stijl:

    I was referring to the literal big Government of the United States of America. Not one of your hated pet websites.

    Blocking a law restores nothing for anyone, regardless of the double speak statement amending the proposed restriction.

    And bold capital lettering makes your political sloganeering even more absurd.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  20. David says:

    If the court agrees with the position of the federal gov’t, all voters get those three days. I don’t see the issue. Or is the right’s position that extra time is fine for a group that tends to vote republican is fine, but it’s an outrage if all voters get tha time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  21. Scott O says:

    @D.W.Robinson: Can you give us any reason why only military personal should be allowed to vote in person during the 3 days before the election?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  22. rudderpedals says:

    @D.W.Robinson: Oh please, different rules for some is unamerican. We’re all equal under the law. You might have woken up this morning wishing we lived in Plato’s Republic but the rest of us woke up in reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  23. de stijl says:

    @D.W.Robinson:

    Blocking a law restores nothing for anyone

    Ohio used to have an early voting period that applied to all eligible voters.

    A law was passed to restrict that early voting period so all non-military voters could not cast an early ballot during the three days immediately prior to election day.

    Blocking that law restores those three days to all non-military voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  24. de stijl says:

    @D.W.Robinson:

    Big Government says filing suit to end an extra three day voting grace period extended as a courtesy to our military won’t restrict their voting period by those extra three days, somehow.

    I was referring to the literal big Government of the United States of America. Not one of your hated pet websites.

    Oddly enough, Breitbart.com’s Big Government site characterizes the situation thusly:

    Obama Campaign Sues to Restrict Military Voting

    It would be funny if it weren’t so goddamned predictable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  25. D.W.Robinson says:

    @Scott O:

    My personal reasons for support or non support are irrelevant to the Federal Gov’s intervention in Ohio law.

    @de stijl:

    The website you obsessively promote states the exact opposite of what I typed.

    Your tendentious dichotomy is exactly why independents such as myself are fleeing the Democrats in droves.

    I appreciate your personal take on the situation, but please. save all the extraneous BS about your least favorite website for someone else who has the time to wrestle over the red crayon with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  26. David M says:

    @D.W.Robinson:

    Blocking a law restores nothing for anyone, regardless of the double speak statement amending the proposed restriction.

    filing suit to end an extra three day voting grace period

    So now that it’s been pointed out that nothing is being ended, you acknowledge these statements were not true?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. Scott O says:

    @D.W.Robinson: OK, let me rephrase my question. Regardless of whether or not you agree with them, can you give us any reason why the state of Ohio should only allow military personal to vote in person during the 3 days before the election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  28. de stijl says:

    @D.W.Robinson:

    I’m sorry I initially misinterpreted your comment and confused your “Big Government” comment with the Breitbart site.

    However, I am still trying to figure out how giving the full set of eligible voters the right to vote early restricts the rights of the subset.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  29. D.W.Robinson says:

    @David M:

    If we return to the article….

    The partial Romney quote attributed above states Democrats are arguing:

    “it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period.”

    Part A of the lawsuit states:

    A. An order declaring that lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03(I) in HB 224, which amended Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 by changing the deadline for in-person early voting from the close of business on the day before Election Day to 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, and the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution;

    Are Democrats arguing the constitutionality of this law, or are they not?

    It now appears to me the ‘restoration’ section is a red herring to the ‘constitutionality’ contention that makes up the entirety of the snippet above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  30. David M says:

    @D.W.Robinson: Reading is hard.

    From the original post.

    B. A preliminary and permanent order prohibiting the Defendants, their respective agents, servants, employees, attorneys, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them, from implementing or enforcing lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03 (I) in HB 224, and/or the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, thereby restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters

    The relief sought is allowing everyone early in-person voting, not taking it away from anyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  31. D.W.Robinson says:

    @Scott O:

    Again, my personal view is not the topic of the article above.

    I have no desire to see this conversation take a turn toward me personally under any circumstance.

    I’m very much out of intarwebs chat time and unable to participate in a conversation on personal ideologies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  32. D.W.Robinson says:

    @David M:

    And you’ve posted the red herring section that diverts attention away from the constitutionality statement in the article.

    And this question goes unanswered:
    Are Democrats arguing the constitutionality of this law, or are they not?

    Apparently, reading plain language is difficult around here.

    First a faulty website attribution and now this tactic.

    Tell you what….I’ll get back to you…..later.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  33. David M says:

    @D.W.Robinson: You cannot be serious. Either that or you literally have zero understanding of the lawsuit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  34. Scott O says:

    You have no problem sharing your personal view that people here are parroting a distortion without thought but asking you to give us some logical reason for passing this law is asking too much. I completely understand .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  35. Console says:

    @D.W.Robinson:

    It’s your literacy that’s under fire, not your ideology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  36. To supporters it’s misrepresenting.
    To everyone else it’s lying.

    I think this is a silly quibble, and a bit mean-spirited to hit Doug over a distinction in meaning between “misrepresenting” and “lying” that in the context of this post he’s written is very trivial.

    I almost NEVER agree with Doug on anything he writes. I frequently criticize his positions, his reasoning, his logic, everything. But in this post, he’s right. He’s said nothing that is incorrect or misleading. So why needle him for saying that Romney is misrepresenting the purpose of the lawsuit as opposed to saying he’s lying? Romney IS misrepresenting the purpose of the lawsuit!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  37. Bahl Sanchin says:

    @Bob Gavin:

    You’re not very bright, are you? Its the Romney campaign that knows it’s losing the state, so they are making the desperate hail mary pass in hopes that there enough ignoramuses like yourself that won’t bother to learn the facts and will just react in a moronic, half-cocked way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  38. jukeboxgrad says:

    Pay attention to what this thread tells us about Mitt and DWR, and you have the GOP in a nutshell: the ignorant being led by the dishonest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. al-Ameda says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    I almost NEVER agree with Doug on anything he writes. I frequently criticize his positions, his reasoning, his logic, everything. But in this post, he’s right. He’s said nothing that is incorrect or misleading. So why needle him for saying that Romney is misrepresenting the purpose of the lawsuit as opposed to saying he’s lying? Romney IS misrepresenting the purpose of the lawsuit!

    Exactly right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Michel says:

    Ohio passed a law giving active duty military extra time to vote. Obama is suing them for it. What is dishonest or misleading about that? The purpose of the law was to give active duty military a special exemption. If they wanted to pass a law that stated EVERYONE could early vote – they could have. They did not. This is not freakin’ rocket science. Nice press spin in an attempt to protect Obozo from looking like a jerk. Too littler, too late.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  41. Michel

    No, you are wrong. Up until the fall of last year Ohio had an early voting law that allowed all Ohio voters to vote up until the Monday before Election Day. The legislature changed that to end early voting on the preceding Friday, then passed another law that allowed members of the military and their families only to vote until Monday. There is no rational basis for that special preference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. Bob Geary says:

    Ohio HB 194, and subsequently HB 224 and SB 295 passed by the Republican dominated legislature shortened the time period on early voting by 3 days. That is 3 days that all Ohio voters had available to vote, for the last 5 years that they do not have now. That is restricting voting. 93,000 Ohio voters voted during that 3 day period last election, now that 3 days is gone. Read the lawsuit. What the lawsuit is seeking is very easy to understand even for a non-lawyer like me. The Ohio military voting rights have been and will remain unaffected by any of this.This lawsuit,as I read it, does not restrict Military voting in any way. I have read the entire lawsuit and it is not about the Military, it is about giving back the 3 days of early voting that was afforded to all Ohio voters, utilized by 93,000 voters in the last election, that was taken away…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0