President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party filed a lawsuit July 17 to restore voting during the three days prior to Election Day in the state of Ohio. If the restriction is removed, it could benefit as many as 93,000 Ohioans who voted early during the 2008 presidential election, according to the court complaint filed by Obama and the Democrats.
The lawsuit claims restricting early voting is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says no state can curtail privileges granted by citizenship.
The lawsuit is being thrown into the middle of an ongoing battle between Democrats and Republicans over voting restrictions.
Last year, the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature passed HB 194 and HB 224, which together restricted all early voting. HB 224 targeted the three days before Election Day, and HB 194 mostly targeted early voting prior to that time.
If the lawsuit is successful, it would effectively overturn HB 224.
The Ohio legislature already overturned HB 194 earlier this year by passing SB 295, following the advice of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. However, some critics voiced concern that the repeal was unconstitutional. After HB 194 passed, Ohioans quickly gathered petitions to put the law on the November 2012 ballot. So, Republicans ended up repealing a law that was already up for referendum — a first in Ohio.
The Obama team and other Democrats also raised concerns that the HB 194 repeal would undermine calls to restore all early voting by overlooking the three days prior to Election Day. The lawsuit would address such concerns by bringing those three days to the forefront.
Obama visited Cincinnati on June 16 for a town hall-style event but did not mention the state’s voting legislation. (German Lopez)