Obama 2012 Enters Fight to Halt Changes to Ohio’s Early Voting Rules

More than 200,000 signatures must be collected by the end of the week.

Posted: 09/28/2011 07:30 AM EDT
New election law plans to shorten time allotted to cast early ballots

President Obama’s re-election team is working with activists in Ohio to challenge a new election law that would shorten the time allotted to cast early ballots. They believe that early voting helped Obama win the battleground state in 2008.

 

Opponents must gather approximately 231,000 valid signatures before Sept. 30, when the law is supposed to go into effect to prevent it from being in place until after next year’s presidential election, The Associated Press reports.

 

“At a time when we should be expanding the number of people voting, there are some in Ohio trying to shrink it. It’s pure politics,” wrote Obama’s national field director, Jeremy Bird, in an email to supporters seeking their aid with the effort.

 

Opponents to the law say it would also create longer lines on election day, restrict poll workers from helping voters submit a valid ballot, and eliminate early voting in evenings, Saturday afternoon and Sundays, according to a report from The Marietta Times.

 

Democratic lawmakers, liberal and minority organizations and the state’s Democratic Party feel confident that they will get the signatures needed and are using a structure in place from an earlier drive to repeal a new collective bargaining law. The groups reportedly gathered close to four times the signatures needed.

 

Judith Browne-Dianis, a civil rights lawyer who co-directs the Advancement Project, said in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday night that laws such as the one to curb early voting in Ohio and other states aim to target African-Americans, young adults and other groups who registered and turned out in much higher numbers in 2008.

 

“Why is it that we have decided that certain people should not participate in our democracy? There are some people who want to undermine democracy [and] cut off the voices of the powerless,” Browne-Dianis said.

(Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

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