Fox News completely misrepresented an Obama campaign lawsuit to expand early voting in Ohio to claim that it disenfranchised military voters in order to gain an advantage in the election. In fact, the lawsuit in question has increased all Ohioans' opportunities to vote and did not disenfranchise anybody.
Until 2011, Ohioans could cast early votes in the days preceding an election. But that year, the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature implemented statutes that restricted early voting on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day to members of the military and their families. The Obama campaign won a lawsuit seeking to overturn the statutes that restricted early voting for non-military voters, and Fox was reporting on Ohio officials' decision to ask the Supreme Court to reverse that ruling.
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that, due to the court decision, “thousands of military members in Ohio may not be able to cast their vote.” Carlson later speculated that the Obama campaign was purposely seeking to restrict military voting in order to gain an electoral advantage.
Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano picked up the theme, saying: “I think the Obama administration is willing to use the court system to keep people who they think will vote for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan from doing so.”
Napolitano later claimed that military voters “have the weekend in which to vote. You have Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday like everybody else,” but military voters have lost an “extra five days” to vote.
But none of what Carlson or Napolitano is remotely true.
A federal court ruled that Ohio could not bar non-military citizens from early voting if they allowed members of the military to vote. It therefore ordered that “in-person early voting is restored on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters” (emphasis added). An intermediate appellate court upheld that ruling.
In other words, the Obama campaign did not seek to restrict anyone's ability to vote early, and the courts have not restricted anyone's ability to vote early. More people have been allowed to vote, not fewer. And no restrictions on military voting have been requested or implemented.
Indeed, the Supreme Court papers filed by Ohio officials do not allege that military voters are harmed in any way by the vote. Rather, the officials contend that they will not be able to prepare for Election Day if they are forced to allow all Ohioans to continue to cast early votes in the days before the election.
But Fox won't let the facts get in the way of a good attack on President Obama.