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Obama Campaign Sues Ohio Over Voting Rights

After doing a lot of complaining and speechifying about the voting restrictions Republicans have implemented around the country, the Obama campaign today took the next step in their fight: The campaign filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio for eliminating early voting in the final three days before the election.

It is the first lawsuit the Obama campaign has filed in favor of voting rights this election.

A quick look at the math reveals why the Obama campaign felt this was an important issue to fight. In the 2008 election, more than 1.7 million people in Ohio voted early—nearly a third of all the ballots cast. Of those 1.7 million, almost 100,000 voted in person in the final three days before the election. It is an option that many people avail themselves of, either to beat the election day rush or perhaps they have to be out of town on election day. Obama won Ohio by slightly more than 200,000 votes—and observers expect it to be even closer this time.

But the Republican-led legislature in Ohio came along and eliminated voting in those three days before the election, prompting the Obama campaign to bring the state to court to restore the voting days.

“This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” Bob Bauer, the attorney for Obama for America, the president’s campaign committee, said during a conference call with reporters. “We want to restore the right of all to vote before Election Day.”

The campaign says changes the Ohio Legislature made created inequality among military and overseas voters, who can cast early ballots through the day before the election, and all other voters, who have until 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election to vote in-person absentee. This, the campaign contends, is a violation of the equal protection provision of the U.S. Constitution.

“Without early voting in these last three days before Election Day, tens of thousands of citizens who would have otherwise exercised their right to vote during this time period, including the plaintiffs’ members and supporters, may not be able to participate in future elections at all,” the campaign’s complaint states.

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