The Obama campaign's lawsuit to expand early, in-person voting in Ohio for all voters back to the 2008 presidential election rules hit a snag when fraternal military groups opposed the lawsuit because of the claimed possible future impact a ruling in the case could have on military voting.
At that point, the Romney campaign jumped in — and Obama advisor David Axelrod was left defending the campaign's lawsuit to Chris Wallace on Fox News on Sunday.
Captain Sam Wright, a retired members Navy Judge Advocate General Corps who heads the Reserve Officers' Association's Service Members Law Center, told BuzzFeed on Sunday, "It MUST be constitutional to make accommodations for military voters that are not made for voters generally."
University of Florida law professor and former Air Force officer Diane Mazur emailed in to disagree.
Of the fraternal military groups opposing the Obama campaign's lawsuit, Mazur tells BuzzFeed, "Their arguments are extremely misleading and also damaging to military professionalism." She goes on:
The primary confusion is between in-person and absentee voting. There is a long history of accommodation for military and overseas voters to vote by absentee ballot, and this is settled. I am unaware, however, of any prior attempt by states or the federal government to grant extra voting privileges to service members voting in person, not absentee. ... The news reports ought to make more clear that this is a giant leap beyond any other kind of military voting accommodation. If you follow the statements of the military groups and Republican representatives closely, you'll see that they glide back and forth between references to absentee and in-person voting, realizing that their in-person arguments are without precedent, and without justification.
Of the Democrats' response to the criticism of the lawsuit by the Romney campaign and the military groups, Mazur writes:
The Democrats are sputtering in their explanations, and not doing a very good job of it, because they are afraid of the accusation. They could be more clear about what is going on, but they have no confidence it will be understood.
The idea that service members are fuller citizens than the rest of America is a disaster for military professionalism. Making reckless allegations that civilians are trying to disenfranchise service members is one of the most destructive things you can do to the military. That's another message that is being lost here. We have raised a generation of service members and veterans who completely believe the falsehood that some civilians don't want them to vote, and our civil-military relations are worse for it.
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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