The Dishonest Attack on Obama’s Military Voting Lawsuit

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Jason Reed / Reuters

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an election campaign fundraiser in Stamford, Connecticut, August 6, 2012.

It’s only August, but we’ve reached the stage of the presidential race in which both sides ceaselessly sling mud at a wall, hoping something will stick. Have you heard the one about how Barack Obama wants to restrict the rights of military voters? It’s a perfect example of how campaigns misrepresent their opponents’ positions to mislead voters and gain an advantage.

Here’s the gist. On July 17, Obama for America, the DNC and the Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit challenging the Buckeye State’s policy for early voting. In 2011, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature eliminated a policy that provided for three days of early voting for all Ohioans, which was thought to have provided an edge for Obama in 2008. Now only military families and civilians living overseas can participate in early voting until the Monday before Election Day; everyone else can do so until the previous Friday. The complaint challenges this “disparate treatment,” which affords a small group of voters special privileges, and seeks “to restore in-person voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day — a right exercised by an estimated 93,000 Ohioans in the last presidential election.” You can read the lawsuit for yourself here.

(PHOTOS: Inside Barack Obama’s World)

One assumes the Romney campaign perused it, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they reacted. The candidate blasted out a statement on Saturday declaring Obama’s position “an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.” Katie Biber, Romney’s general counsel, wrote a memo attacking Obama’s “despicable” lawsuit. “We disagree with the basic premise that it is “arbitrary” and unconstitutional to give three extra days of in-person early voting to military voters and their families, and believe it is a dangerous and offensive argument for President Obama and the DNC to make,” she wrote. “It is not only constitutional, but commendable that the Ohio legislature granted military voters and their families this accommodation.”

It is legitimate to debate whether military members should receive special accommodations because of the demands of their jobs. It is an abject lie to claim, as conservative propagandists did, that Obama was “suing to restrict their ability to vote in the upcoming election.” The lawsuit doesn’t attempt to restrict the voting rights of military members, or anyone else for that matter. It seeks to grant the privilege afforded to one group of voters to everyone. “Never does the filing mention stripping away privileges from service members,” as a Washington Post’s Fact Checker analysis notes. “The lawsuit in question would not change the deadline one way or another for military voters. It simply requests an order for the state to extend its civilian deadline.”

Romney’s camp knows this perfectly well. But for obvious reasons, it wants to nurture the perception that Obama is hostile to military voters in a pivotal state. Its statements are a riot of innuendo, carefully worded to stop short of factual inaccuracy. Romney’s statement was headlined “WE MUST DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF MILITARY VOTERS,” an implicit suggestion that Obama wants to take them away. Romney pledges to “work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them,” again intimating Obama is doing exactly that. The Biber memo doesn’t explain the substance of the lawsuit; it simply blasts the Democratic side for claiming it is “arbitrary” and unconstitutional to extend the three days of early voting to military members, and points to a coalition of military groups challenging Obama’s position. The campaign does not actually accuse Obama of restricting military voting rights. It’s just sayin’.

(PHOTOS: The Obama Presidency in Pictures)

This is how campaigns fudge without lying, preying on the uninformed in the process. “Most of the time it’s not like campaigns are making crystal clear factual claims” that aren’t true, says Bill Adair, the editor of the fact-checking website PolitiFact. “They’re cloaking factual claims in other kinds of rhetoric. They’re using some really sneaky tactics.” Adair wasn’t talking about the military voting issue specifically; Romney’s campaign had yet to latch onto the attack when we spoke. He was speaking more generally about the sophisticated techniques campaigns use to attack each other without spouting outright falsehoods. The military voting claim was widely exposed as bunk, and the Romney campaign has since moved onto a new attack, this time on welfare reform. But plenty of reputable news organizations reported the allegations without prejudice. It’s likely that many voters are laboring under the misconception that Obama is trying to restrict military voting rights. At the very least, the recriminations deflected attention from Harry Reid’s unsupported and cynical — but undeniably effective — claims about Romney’s tax returns.

So the military-voting canard is but one example of how campaign strategy is rooted in the assumption that every attack, no matter how baseless, carries political benefits. To be sure, both sides employ misrepresentations to hit their opponents. The new ad from the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action is a nasty bid to tie Romney to the death of a steelworker’s wife; the connection is extremely tenuous even before you factor in the haziness of its timeline. If this is the muck voters have to trudge through in August to find the facts, can you imagine the depth of the slime we’ll be contending with come October?

27 comments
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kiefo
kiefo

Now that Obama's primary voter fraud outfit/crime syndicate ACORN has been shut down (thank you, James O'Keefe!), who will Obama and the rest of the Democrat party use to cast fraudulent votes of dead people, convicted felons, illegals, dogs, cats, paramecia, Batman, Robin, Snow White, Beavis, Butthead, ...?

 

BTW, are there people actually surprised that a militant, Chicago, career, community agitator like Obama who palled around with unrepentant terrorists who bombed the Pentagon (i.e., William Ayers) and murdered police (i.e., Bernardine Dohrn) would attempt to restrict voting by members of the United States military?

 

Is anyone surprised that Obama's chief useful idiots (i.e., his political activists at leftist Super PACs like ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, A-Mess-NBC, the New York Times-Democrat, the Washigton Post-Democrat, et al.) are attempting (and failing) to defend Obama's War on the United States military?

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"...we’ve reached the stage of the presidential race in which both sides ceaselessly sling mud at a wall, hoping something will stick."

Granted, this is one example where Romney isn't being caught in an outright lie (just a slimy deception). Is that why you chose it for your trite, exhausted "both sides" meme column? Because it's clearly the exception to Romney's constant, naked lying, which can in no way honestly be compared with President Obama's campaign rhetoric.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Missing the forest for the trees.

Stripping away established early voting in Ohio. Voter ID in Penn. Voter purge in Florida. The list goes.

One party is doing everything in its power to have fewer people vote. Might be a story there for an enterprising reporter.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Systematic, well planned ,voter suppression , the biggest political story of 2012 - no it's not who will Willard pick as his VP - and the MSM is asleep.

I guess we will have to rely on people like Greg Palast-

http://www.gregpalast.com/7-wa...

Pnnto
Pnnto

Going 1 for 5 in presidential election popular voting will do that.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Why do Republicans hate democracy?

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Pertinent regarding the Military groups joining the suit:

 

Plaintiffs Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio

Democratic Party (“Plaintiffs”) support the intervention of the 15 military service organizations.

As set forth in their Complaint and Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion for a

Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiffs seek to restore for all voters access to early voting through the Monday before Election Day. Neither the substance of its Equal Protection claim, nor the relief requested, challenges the legislature’s authority to make appropriate accommodation, including early voting during the period in question, for military voters, their spouses or dependents. The question before the Court is whether, in the circumstances of this case, the State of Ohio may arbitrarily and without justification withdraw from all other Ohio eligible voters the same right they previously had to vote the weekend and Monday before Election Day.

USMCVET68
USMCVET68

This lawsuit being brought against the state of Ohio is a setback for Military Voting Rights. Veterans and active duty military have been fighting to make it easy for active duty military to have greater access for voting due to various hardships placed on them while serving including availability of time due to deployment, receiving temporary orders, 24 hour base alert status, etc.

Ohio has reached out to the military with its Military Ready to Vote Program making it easier for active military to register to vote, receive absentee ballots, as well as vote in person when possible. Ohio legislators also voted to provide an additional 3 days of early voting to make it easier for them to vote even while county poll workers are busy setting up and testing machines statewide for the Tuesday National election and counting. Ohio leads the way in making it easy for anyone to vote.

Lets compare Ohio to neighboring state Michigan :

Ohio: Early voting begin for any registered

Ohio voter September 28

Ohio: Early voting ends Nov 2. with the exception of military, which is extended for 3 additional days.

Ohio: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 6:30 AM to 7:30PM

Ohio: Absentee Ballots restriction. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. No reason required.

Michigan: There is no early voting for anyone.

Michigan: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 7:00AM to 8:00PM

Michigan: Absentee ballots -- As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee voter ballot ONLY if you are:

age 60 years old or older

unable to vote without assistance at the polls

expecting to be out of town on election day

in jail awaiting arraignment or trial

unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons

appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

In Ohio, it is easier for every registered voter to vote. Easier than most states. Basically, the lawsuit is saying that military are not entitled to have an additional 3 days to vote in Ohio. Please stand with other  military and veterans organizations and oppose this lawsuit. If the President had any balls, he would stand up as Commander-in-Chief and tell his campaign that this suit should be dropped and that he stands with the troops and that he is truly Commander-in-Chief.

USMCVET68
USMCVET68

Nothing like trying to have it both ways. In Ohio, it is easier for every registered voter to vote. Easier than most states. Basically, the lawsuit is saying that military are not entitled to have an additional 3 days to vote in Ohio. Please stand with other  military and veterans organizations and oppose this lawsuit. If the President had any balls, he would stand up as Commander-in-Chief and tell his campaign that this suit should be dropped and that he stands with the troops and that he is truly Commander-in-Chief

sacredh
sacredh

The President has the balls to say every Ohioan has the same rights. Obama stands with the troops and he stands with every other citizen.

USMCVET68
USMCVET68

Ohio leads the way in making it easy for anyone to vote. Lets compare Ohio to neighboring state Michigan

:

Ohio: Early voting begin for any registered Ohio voter September 28

Ohio: Early voting ends Nov 2. with the exception of military, which is extended for 3 additional days.

Ohio: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 6:30 AM to 7:30PM

Ohio: Absentee Ballots restriction. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. No reason required.

Michigan: There is no early voting for anyone.

Michigan: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 7:00AM to 8:00PM

Michigan: Absentee ballots -- As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee voter ballot ONLY if you are: age 60 years old or older unable to vote without assistance at the polls expecting to be out of town on election day in jail awaiting arraignment or trial unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence. In Ohio, it is easier for every registered voter to vote. Active duty are returning everyday from Iraq, Afghanistan, or other foreign duty. Their absentee ballots may not have caught up with them. Some military are returning to duty after injuries suffered and may be returning to Ohio on Nov. 3, 4, or 5 and may also be required to be on base on election the 6th. This is one of the reason the flexibilty regarding military was being made.

USMCVET68
USMCVET68

This lawsuit being brought against the state of Ohio is a setback for Military Voting Rights. Veterans and active duty military have been fighting to make it easy for active duty military to have greater access for voting due to various hardships placed on them while serving including availability of time due to deployment, receiving temporary orders, 24 hour base alert status, etc. Ohio has reached out to the military with its Military Ready to Vote Program making it easier for active military to register to vote, receive absentee ballots, as well as vote in person when possible. Ohio legislators also voted to provide an additional 3 days of early voting to make it easier for them to vote even while county poll workers are busy setting up and testing machines statewide for the Tuesday National election and counting.

Ohio leads the way in making it easy for anyone to vote. Lets compare Ohio to neighboring state Michigan :

Ohio: Early voting begin for any registered Ohio voter September 28

Ohio: Early voting ends Nov 2. with the exception of military, which is extended for 3 additional days.

Ohio: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 6:30 AM to 7:30PM

Ohio: Absentee Ballots restriction. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. No reason required.

Michigan: There is no early voting for anyone.

Michigan: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 7:00AM to 8:00PM

Michigan: Absentee ballots -- As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee voter ballot ONLY if you are:

age 60 years old or older

unable to vote without assistance at the polls

expecting to be out of town on election day

in jail awaiting arraignment or trial

unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons

appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

In Ohio, it is easier for every registered voter to vote. Easier than most states. Basically, the lawsuit is saying that military are not entitled to have an additional 3 days to vote in Ohio. Please stand with other  military and veterans organizations and oppose this lawsuit. If the President had any balls, he would stand up as Commander-in-Chief and tell his campaign that this suit should be dropped and that he stands with the troops and that he is truly Commander-in-Chief.

USMCVET68
USMCVET68

This lawsuit being brought against the state of Ohio is a setback for Military Voting Rights. Veterans and active duty military have been fighting to make it easy for active duty military to have greater access for voting due to various hardships placed on them while serving including availability of time due to deployment, receiving temporary orders, 24 hour base alert status, etc. Ohio has reached out to the military with its Military Ready to Vote Program making it easier for active military to register to vote, receive absentee ballots, as well as vote in person when possible. Ohio legislators also voted to provide an additional 3 days of early voting to make it easier for them to vote even while county poll workers are busy setting up and testing machines statewide for the Tuesday National election and counting. Ohio leads the way in making it easy for anyone to vote. Lets compare Ohio to neighboring state Michigan :Ohio: Early voting begin for any registered Ohio voter September 28Ohio: Early voting ends Nov 2. with the exception of military, which is extended for 3 additional days.Ohio: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 6:30 AM to 7:30PMOhio: Absentee Ballots restriction. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. No reason required.Michigan: There is no early voting for anyone.Michigan: Polls open election day Nov. 6 from 7:00AM to 8:00PMMichigan: Absentee ballots -- As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee voter ballot ONLY if you are: age 60 years old or older unable to vote without assistance at the polls expecting to be out of town on election day in jail awaiting arraignment or trial unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence. In Ohio, it is easier for every registered voter to vote. Easier than most states. Basically, the lawsuit is saying that military are not entitled to have an additional 3 days to vote in Ohio. Please stand with other  military and veterans organizations and oppose this lawsuit. If the President had any balls, he would stand up as Commander-in-Chief and tell his campaign that this suit should be dropped and that he stands with the troops and that he is truly Commander-in-Chief.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Willard's people obviously see the chances of winning Ohio are diminishing on a weekly basis. This has  more than a whiff of desperation. Of course, the wingnuts will come on here and say that the military are a privileged class, but I wonder how the  sainted Founding Fathers would have felt about such meritocracy.

I still believe that in presidential (and off year ) elections we ought to make it a holiday weekend - Friday through Monday midnight. What's so sacred about the first Tuesday in November?

sacredh
sacredh

I thought the founding fathers didn't even want a standing army.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

Fifteen veterans groups have joined Romney on this issue. So Altman, who never served a day in uniform,  is calling all these veterans liars. How classless.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

Kevin, oh Kevin,

Oh my how you have drunk the Kool-Aid of Republican dishonesty.  The Obama administration was to extend last day voting to everyone, not just the military, yet the Romney campaign is telling the lie that Obama wants to "restrict" military voting and you bought it hook, line and sinker.

Frankly, wearing a uniform does not really make a difference.  A liar is a liar, whether they wear the uniform or not.

If wearing the uniform is so important, then maybe everyone, including Obama should take back everything said about Jeremiah Wright, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam era and assisted in the surgery of President Lyndon Johnson.

If the uniform was so important, I suppose you supported John Kerry, who could have had a desk job during Vietnam instead of going directly into combat instead of George W. Bush, who basically did have a desk job by serving in the National Guard instead of volunteering like Kerry did.

doddeb
doddeb

"Because Mitt Romney, by supporting the Ohio law that would do away with three days of early voting for all but those covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (‘UOCAVA’), is supporting the restriction of voting rights for as many as 913,000 Ohio veterans. This includes military retirees with over 20 years of service and multiple deployments. In short, Mitt Romney supports efforts to make voting more difficult for the very people who have put their lives on the line after swearing an oath to uphold our Constitution and democracy..

Once you leave the military, you are no longer covered by UOCAVA. Your voting rights are the same as any civilian. That means the early voting law which Mitt Romney wants to undo, provided hundreds of thousands of Ohio veterans with more of an opportunity to vote. By all accounts, Ohio voters liked and used the early voting law. In 2008, nearly one-third of all ballots was cast under the early voting measures, surely many of them veterans.

.

Interestingly, the press reported that 15 military and veterans’ groups supported Romney’s position. Yet on Friday, the Obama Campaign actually signed a brief to the court that backed the petition of those groups – welcoming them into the case, because the Obama campaign says it wants to ensure that military voters aren’t kept from early voting. Now that we know the truth, I hope those groups will come out and fully support the President’s campaign, in court. Because if they don’t, the change in law will hurt so many who have served in uniform."

.

http://thinkprogress.org/elect...

Megatron_Rises
Megatron_Rises

Veterans who lie are liars, by definition. That Alex never spent a day in uniform is... well... irrelevant.

pollardty
pollardty

Only Republican partisans are allowed to criticize veterans (Kerry) honesty. 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

The Swiftboaters were veterans.  The Swiftboaters were liars.  All veterans are not liars.  Only those who lie are.  A reporter's military status has no bearing on the matter.  Kevin lunges beyond all logic. He thinks right wing think.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

It wouldn't be so comical if Kevin himself weren't the consummate lying Veteran.

 

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Well if the shoe fits.

What veterans are objecting to people being allowed to vote?

Why would they do that?

Alex Altman
Alex Altman

And here's exhibit A in why campaigns try this b.s. Thanks for underlining my point.

sacredh
sacredh

Uh oh. Kevin knows your name and where you work. Tell your boss to be expecting a phone call.