Fox's senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano teamed up with Neil Cavuto to attack the Obama campaign for suing Ohio Republican officials after the state restricted early voting access for some, calling the suit “frivolous” and saying that it will impact “very few people.”
In fact, almost 2 million Ohioans took advantage of early voting during the 2008 presidential election -- and limiting early voting availability disproportionately affects minorities, new citizens, and the poor.
The suit at issue concerns a series of recent Ohio laws that end in-person, early voting in the final three days before Election Day in November for all Ohio citizens, except for military members, their families, and Americans living abroad. Previously, early voting was available to Ohioans on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before a national election at the discretion of local election boards. Napolitano asserted that this state-wide closure would affect “very few” voters and that the Democrats' suit shows “a very absurd willingness to file lawsuits in frivolous cases.”
In fact, roughly 1.7 million Ohioans, or 30 percent of the state's total voters, voted early in the three days before the 2008 election.
Similarly, the new law subjects citizens living in the same district to different early voting opportunities. Military personnel and their families will continue to enjoy early voting the weekend prior to the election, while their civilian neighbors will not. The change in hours leads to ambiguity for citizens who are accustomed to voting on their particular district's schedule.
Ending early voting prior to the election also disproportionately affects minorities and the poor, those most unlikely to reach a voting booth on Election Day. Project Vote, a nonprofit organization that focuses on voting rights issues, determined that, during the 2008 election, “African American and Hispanic voters cast ballots at a rate exceeding or matching that of white voters.” The Brennan Center for Justice found that early voting restrictions most heavily disrupt minorities' vote:
New restrictions on early voting will also have their biggest impact on people of color. Opponents of these restrictions have been particularly angered by the efforts to eliminate Sunday early voting, which they see as explicitly targeting African-American voters. Florida eliminated early voting on the last Sunday before Election Day, and Ohio has eliminated early voting on Sundays entirely. There is substantial statistical and anecdotal evidence that African Americans (and to a lesser extent Hispanics) vote on Sundays in proportionately far greater numbers than whites.