Yesterday Fox News featured a story about the availability of early voting in the state of Ohio. As can be expected, Fox utterly mangled the truth in order to portray Democrats in a negative light.
The issue at hand was Ohio’s law that permits members of the military to engage in early voting up until the Monday prior to the election, while all other Ohioans have a deadline of the previous Friday. Democrats objected to this situation as it discriminates against certain voters and is almost certainly a violation of the Constitution’s “equal protection” clause. They filed suit in order to extend the early voting privilege to all citizens.
To be clear, the goal of the suit was to allow every Ohio citizen to vote early up to the Monday prior to election, not to restrict the military by taking away those three extra days. It’s a position consistent with Democratic efforts to make voting as easy as possible. Republicans, on the other hand, have been conducting a War on Voting that includes curtailing early voting, placing new regulations on registration gathering, and voter ID laws that are proven to disenfranchise millions of eligible voters in order to prevent fraud that they can’t even show exists.
Nevertheless, the conservative media jumped on this story, sensing an opportunity to misrepresent the facts and smear Democrats. Breitbart News began with a wholly dishonest article that proclaimed…
“it’s unconscionable that we as a nation wouldn’t make it as easy as possible for members of the military to vote. They arguably have more right to vote than the rest of us.”
Of course, it is the Democrats who are trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone to vote. And the notion that the military (or anyone) has more right to vote than anyone else sounds like something from an autocratic dictatorship that would place powerful elites above ordinary citizens.
Fox News picked up the story from Breitbart and discussed it with a partisan panel who regurgitated the false premise that Democrats were seeking to take something away from our military. The segment began with anchor Shannon Bream saying…
“If President Obama gets his way, the special voting rights of some of America’s finest will be eliminated. The campaign is suing to keep members of the military from having extra time to cast their ballots in one key battleground state.”
Wrong again. They are suing to give everyone extra time. During the discussion Charles Krauthammer even injected the assertion that soldiers need more time because the demands of their duties in war zones like Afghanistan prevent them from going to the polls. Krauthammer is supposed to be the intellectual on Fox News, but that comment is just plain stupid. Surely he must know that early voting is only available to people who are actually in the state. There are no polling places in Afghanistan, early or otherwise. Soldiers who are out of the country vote by absentee ballot and this issue doesn’t affect them in any way.
Having climbed up the Right-Wing Noise Machine food chain, Mitt Romney chimed in with his contribution to exacerbating this phony outrage:
“Any effort to impede the right of our military members, overseas or here domestically in voting, would be an extraordinary violation of the trust we should have for those who serve so valiantly.”
He’s absolutely right. That’s why it’s absurd to be making a federal case of this since what he is implying has not occurred. Romney has simply joined the ranks of those who will shamelessly exploit fabricated controversies to advance his own self-interests. And he’s not alone. Perhaps the most painfully embarrassing example of this sort of exploitation is Florida wackadoodle congressman Allen West. Here is what West posted on his Facebook page about this matter:
“As a retired Army officer I am appalled at the Obama administration’s actions to bring a lawsuit against the State of Ohio for the early voting privileges it extends to our Men and Women serving in uniform. To have the Commander in Chief make our US Servicemen and Women the target of a political attack to benefit his reelection actions is reprehensible. The voting privilege extended to these Warriors who represent the best among us should not be a part of the collective vision of this inept President who is more concerned about his reelection than sequestration. As a Combat Veteran, for this President to unleash his campaign cronies against our Military is unconscionable…..how dare this President compare the service, sacrifice, and commitment of those who Guard our liberties not as special and seek to compare them to everyone else. Barack Obama is undeserving of the title Commander-in-Chief.”
Oh my. How dare the President compare soldiers to everyone else. It’s almost as if the President has respect for both the military and for all the citizens of this country – the teachers, factory workers, architects, firefighters, entrepreneurs, cab drivers, homemakers, etc. West is aghast that members of the military are not canonized and the rest of the American people subjugated to their superiority. Ironically, West is the last person to argue for the superiority of the military seeing as he was reprimanded, fined, and nearly discharged dishonorably for engaging in torture. He was a disgrace to his uniform and has no moral standing to question the President’s role as Commander-in-Chief.
The position of Democrats in this matter is consistent with their goal to make voting easier for every citizen. To the extent that members of the military may face difficulties in getting to the polls, the same is true for nurses, policemen, and workers struggling to hold down two or more jobs to make ends meet. And the three extra days just happen to include the weekend that makes the added convenience so significant for working people.
If the polls are to be kept open until the Monday prior to election day, why not let every voter use them? That’s the question that Republicans, and the the right-wing media, cannot answer without sinking into craven hypocrisy. What exactly do they think is so horrifying about letting everyone vote?
The answer is that they assume that more military voters will swing right (an assumption they may regret), and that the working people who would benefit from the additional time are Democratic voters. So the equation is simple: Republicans want to stack the deck for the GOP and suppress their opponents. That’s where the real voter fraud is in America.
[Update:] Romney camp can’t substantiate their lie. Politico reports that: Romney’s spokesman, Ryan Williams, in an interview Saturday could point to no place in Obama’s lawsuit that seeks to restrict the rights of military voters.