The National Guard Association of the United States and more than a dozen other fraternal military groups asked a U.S. judge for permission to intervene in and oppose a lawsuit filed by President Barack Obama’s campaign challenging the fairness of Ohio’s early voting rules.
The campaign sued Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted on July 17, claiming the state’s two-tiered early voting process violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection under the law.
State law allows families of armed forces members and civilians overseas to vote through the Monday before an election while early voting for all other Ohioans ends the preceding Friday. The campaign seeks a court order invalidating the statutes.
“Members of the U.S. Armed Forces risk their lives to keep this nation safe and defend the fundamental constitutional right to vote,” the military groups said in in their request to intervene in the case.
“The Obama campaign’s and Democratic National Committee’s argument that it is arbitrary and unconstitutional to afford special consideration, flexibility, and accommodations to military voters to make it easier for them to vote in person is not only offensive, but flatly wrong as a matter of law,” the groups said.
They’re asking U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus in Columbus, Ohio, for permission to join the case on the side of the state, and to oppose the the Obama campaign’s request for injunctive relief. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15.
The presidential election is set for Nov. 6, a Tuesday.
DeWine told Fox News on Friday that his office has filed a brief in response to the lawsuit. He says the tradition for making special circumstances for military personnel in voting dates back to the civil war.
Actions by the Obama campaign and Democrats, DeWine said, are contrary to American tradition and “quite shocking.”
He adds: “I’m just outraged by this. I can’t believe that the Obama campaign [and] the state Democratic party, are actually saying there’s no rational basis for a distinction between someone who is in the military voting, and somebody not in the military. Our whole history in this country, we’ve made a distinction between the two, recognizing the difficulties, and the unique situation that people in the military are in.”
Ohio, which has 18 electoral votes, has been a bellwether in U.S. politics and no Republican has been elected president without a victory there. Obama, a Democrat, won the state in 2008 with 51.5 percent of the vote.
DeWine and Husted also filed papers today opposing the Obama campaign’s complaint.
Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the Obama For America campaign organization, and Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman, didn’t immediately reply after regular business hours to an e-mail request for comment.
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