President Barack Obama's re-election campaign is going to court in the battleground state of Ohio on Wednesday to try to block new state laws aimed at limiting early voting just before the November 6th election.
The campaign is suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine, both Republicans, over the 2011 laws in a state critical to the presidential campaign.
A recent CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by just six points in the Buckeye State.
The key argument is that the new laws prohibit early voting on the weekend before the election but allow it for military members up until Monday, November 5th.
Democrats argue that will limit turnout, noting that in 2008, 1.7 million votes were cast early, including nearly 100,000 in the final days - 30 percent of the state's registered voters - in a state where President George W. Bush won by only 119,000 votes.
The controversy quickly spilled out onto the campaign trail last month, when Romney accused Obama of using the lawsuit to limit early voting rights for the military. The Obama campaign hotly refuted that accusation.
Husted has said there are logistical reasons for limiting early voting in the days just before the election and said Democrats were engaging in "political hysteria."
But Democrats haven't backed down, accusing Republicans of using local election boards to limit early voting hours in areas with heavy Democratic registration.
Voting experts say more flexible early voting rules are generally more likely to help Democrats because it will help more minorities vote, while military members who generally vote Republican would get extra time to cast their ballot under the new laws.
The Cincinnati Enquirer opined in an editorial published Wednesday that the new laws were a "disgraceful retreat to the days of racial discrimination that none of us should tolerate."
The New York Times chimed in as well, calling it "sleazy politics" and noting that Republican-run election boards in Republican-leaning counties were allowing extra hours during weekdays for voters to cast their ballots, while voters in more Democratic and minority-driven areas such as Cincinnati weren't being granted the same privilege.
by RTT Staff Writer
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