- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2012

Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Sunday defended the president’s decision to challenge a new law in Ohio that has tightened early voting deadlines for all voters except those serving in the military.

Republican Mitt Romney, who has slammed the Obama lawsuit as anti-military, on Saturday called it an “outrage.”

Mr. Axelrod said the lawsuit isn’t designed to restrict military voters, but is intended to restore those same privileges to all voting groups.

“It’s shameful that Governor Romney would hide behind our service men and women to try to deprive other Ohioans of the right to vote,” Mr. Axelrod said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

“That lawsuit stands up for the right of military service people to vote early but it wants that right for everybody in Ohio,” Mr. Axelrod told host Chris Wallace. “I don’t understand what it is about the Republican Party that they want to keep shrinking participation in our elections. That’s not a very confident party, to me.”

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee last month filed a lawsuit to block the new Ohio law, which eliminated the final three days of early voting for all voters except service members.

Democrats contend it’s unfair to extend time to vote for one group without extending the privilege for all, but Mr. Romney took to Facebook on Saturday to weigh in on behalf of military voters.

“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,” the presumptive Republican candidate said on his campaign’s Facebook page.

“I stand with the 15 military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them,” he said.

Among the military groups that have joined the legal fight: the National Guard Association of the United States, AMVETS (American Veterans), and the Association of the U.S. Army.

The groups asked a judge late Wednesday to dismiss the Obama lawsuit.

Democrats are pushing back against voting measures adopted in states around the country by Republican-controlled legislatures. Democrats contend the voter ID laws and other restrictions, requirements and changes are designed to suppress minority turnout.

There’s a lot at stake: A Romney edge among military personnel combined with a lower turnout among traditionally Democratic constituencies could be the difference in swing-state Ohio, where 18 electoral votes are at stake and the final margin is likely to be razor-thin. No Republican has ever won the White House without capturing Ohio.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, more than 1.7 million Ohioans voted before Election Day in 2008 — about 30 percent of all ballots cast.

Of those, nearly 100,000 votes were cast in-person in the final three days before the election.