Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

All Ohioans should be able to vote early

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
All residents should be able to vote early and not just members of the military, says Roland Martin.
All residents should be able to vote early and not just members of the military, says Roland Martin.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Obama campaign sued Ohio in hopes that the state will allow early voting for all
  • Roland Martin: Why did the GOP-controlled legislature want to restrict residents from voting?
  • He says the GOP's nationwide attempts to suppress turnout in November is shameful
  • Martin: Any time any elected official seeks to undermine the right to vote is un-American

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are engaged in a fierce battle in Ohio, knowing full well that it is one of the critical battleground states that could determine who wins in November.

This battle is being waged on television, radio, on the ground and now in the courts after the Obama campaign sued the state, hoping it will open early voting for all residents of the state.

The Republican-led Ohio legislature first kicked off its voter suppression efforts last year when lawmakers passed an onerous election bill that they said was about voter protection. It was such a fraud that more than 300,000 Ohio residents signed a petition to have the measure placed on the statewide ballot this November.

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

Clearly not wanting to be embarrassed by the electorate, the Ohio legislature revoked everything in the bill, except the provision allowing only members of the military to vote three days before the election.

For years, Ohio residents were able to vote the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the election. But for some reason, the GOP-controlled legislature felt that wasn't a good idea and decided to end the practice.

Now why in the world would anyone choose to restrict residents from voting? Doesn't it make sense to find more ways for Americans to vote? In 2008, nearly 100,000 Ohio residents voted during this period. Anyone with a brain would call that a success.

Civil rights advocates talk voting laws
New laws could keep many from voting
Ohio's important role in the election

Some critics say the voting restriction was specifically targeting black communities, preventing them from voting en masse on the weekend before the election. The Ohio GOP understands that such voters are overwhelmingly going to cast ballots for Obama, so why not shave off a few thousand votes in what is expected to be a very close election?

As a result, the Obama campaign sued Ohio, saying all residents should be able to vote early, not just those in the military.

The Romney camp has chastised Obama, saying the president doesn't want military members to vote early. This isn't a close one. Romney, his campaign team and lawyers are flat-out lying, and he knows it.

The length to which the GOP has gone nationwide to suppress turnout in November is shameful.

Opinion: U.S. voting rights under siege

Last week, testimony ended in a lawsuit in Pennsylvania over their voter suppression law. The state's case was so pathetic that the Pennsylvania secretary of state, who is charged with overseeing voting, admitted on the stand that she didn't know exactly how the law worked. The state also admitted they had no evidence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, even though that was the reason they cited for passing the law.

The Romney camp shouldn't be wasting time attacking the Obama team for wanting to return early voting before the election for all voters. In a true spirit of bipartisanship, they should petition the court to invalidate the Ohio law and let all residents of the state vote the three days before the election.

There is no comprehensible reason any conservative or Republican should support the law in Ohio.

For the past two years, I've been a vocal opponent of these types of voter suppression effort, and the whole time I've asked my conservative and Republican friends to show me one example -- just one -- of their ideological buddies pushing an effort to actually expand voting rights. I'm still waiting.

Every American, regardless of party affiliation, should call out the Ohio GOP for its pitiful effort to keep law-abiding residents from casting a ballot a few days early.

Folks, voting is not a privilege. It's a right. And any time any elected official seeks to undermine that right, they should call the effort exactly what it is: un-American.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT