Mitt Romney Will Apparently Lie About Anything
I understand that politicians tell lies. It’s part of the game. But there are lies and then there are lies. Some lies are merely exaggerations or focus on semantics. Other lies are merely “little white lies” that don’t really hurt anyone But some lies … well, some lies are lies and a politician who is willing to go that far is someone about whom we should have real character concerns.
Which brings me to Mitt Romney.
Here is a man who has lied and lied and lied. He even lied about his name during a Republican debate. Seriously. (His name is Willard Mitt Romney but trying to emulate CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Romney claimed that his first name is Mitt.)
But the newest lie cuts much closer to the political core and is so egregious that it is worth highlighting.
First, some facts.
Ohio used to have limited early voting opportunities. But after long lines and other problems in prior elections (2004 in particular), Ohio decided to expand early voting opportunities. And then they changed their minds and decided to reduce early voting again. But then the citizens of Ohio decided to put the new voting requirements to a public referendum. In order to head that off, the Ohio legislature changed the law again in such a way that treated Ohio service members differently than Ohio’s other citizens.
With me so far?
Now, knowing what you do about Republicans and Democrats, can you guess which party was responsible for expanding the early voting window? And which party was responsible for shortening the early voting window? Go ahead. Guess.
So anyway, a lawsuit has been filed in Ohio by the Obama campaign. Do you think, knowing nothing more than the basic policy positions of the campaigns and parties, that the lawsuit wants to:
(a) Reduce the amount of time that US service members have to vote early; or
(b) Increase the amount of time that non-service members have to vote early?</P?>
Or perhaps I’ll ask the question slightly differently. Again, knowing nothing more than the basic policy positions of the campaigns and parties, do you think that the lawsuit wants to:
(a) Treat all citizens of Ohio the same; or
(b) Treat one class of Ohio citizens differently?
In other words, is the Obama campaign seeking to restrict and shorten the time available for early voting or expand and lengthen the time available? Knowing nothing else, what would you guess?
Well, Mitt Romney doesn’t think you’re that smart. He’s willing to offer a bald-faced lie to convince you (and more importantly Ohio voters) that the Obama administration wants to take away voting rights. You know, just like the Obama administration helped pass restrictive voter ID laws and other restrictive voting laws in many states. Oh, wait. That’s right. Neither President Obama nor Democrats have done that. Nope. Efforts to restrict and limit voting rights have been a Republican movement that the Obama Justice Department has challenged.
Obviously, there is no reason for you to trust me over Mitt Romney. I mean, he “saved” the 2002 Olympics and is a former Governor, for Pete’s sake. So how about this? First, let’s look at what Romney has said and then I’ll quote from a part of the actual lawsuit filed by the Obama campaign. See if Romney’s claim matches the relief that the complaint seeks.
First, Mitt Romney’s statement (published on his campaign website):
President Obama's lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. 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. I stand with the fifteen 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.
OK. So in Romney’s view, President Obama has claimed it is unconstitutional for Ohio “to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges” and has implicitly “undermined” the voting rights of the military. So now let’s see what the Obama campaign’s lawsuit really says (and feel free to go read the whole complaint):
- Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day – a right exercised by an estimated 93,000 Ohioans in the last presidential election. Ohio election law, as currently enacted by the State of Ohio and administered by Defendant Ohio Secretary of State, arbitrarily eliminates early voting during the three days prior to Election Day for most Ohio voters, a right previously available to all Ohio voters. This disparate treatment violates 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and can be rectified by the Court enjoining enforcement of statutory changes that eliminate early in-person voting for most Ohioans during the three days before an election.
- Specifically, taken together, Amended Substitute House Bill Number 194 (“HB 194”), Amended Substitute House Bill Number 224 (“HB 224”) and Substitute Senate Bill Number 295 (“SB 295”), all enacted by the 129th Ohio General Assembly, impose different deadlines for in-person voting prior to Election Day (“early voting”) on similarly situated voters. Prior to the enactment of these laws, there was a single uniform deadline of the Monday before Election Day for in-person early voting. After the enactment of these laws, voters using the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (“UOCAVA”) may vote early in-person at a board of elections office up through the Monday before Election Day, while non-UOCAVA voters can vote early in-person at a board of elections office (or designated alternate site) only up until 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.
- The differential treatment of UOCAVA and non-UOCAVA voters with respect to early voting appears to be the result of a confused legislative process initiated by the Ohio General Assembly after citizens of the State commenced the process to subject HB 194 to a referendum. HB 194 was a 300-page bill passed by a Republican dominated legislature that limited voting rights in a number of respects, including by shortening the time period for early voting – an option more likely to be used by groups of voters that tend to support Democratic candidates. While the referendum petitions on HB 194 were circulating, the Ohio General Assembly passed HB 224 with “technical corrections” to the early in person voting laws. Then, after Ohio citizens exercised their right to hold a referendum vote on HB 194 by qualifying for the general election ballot, the Ohio General Assembly passed SB 295 to repeal HB 194, but failed to also repeal the corresponding “technical corrections” made by HB 224 in the interim. Whether caused by legislative error or partisan motivation, the result of this legislative process is arbitrary and inequitable treatment of similarly situated Ohio voters with respect to in-person early voting.
- The Ohio General Assembly has failed to articulate any justification for this differential treatment of UOCAVA and non-UOCAVA voters, and no justification can be discerned. Indeed, these different deadlines exist despite the fact that, for purposes of in-person early voting, both UOCAVA and non-UOCAVA voters are identically situated, i.e., they are qualified electors who are physically present in their home county when they desire to vote in-person at their county board of elections office prior to Election Day.
- This inequitable approach to early voting will have a significant impact on voters. Between 2005 and 2011, Ohio successfully administered an early-voting system that included in-person voting in the three days prior to Election Day. This early voting system increased participation among voters, including those for whom work or family obligations make it difficult to vote on Election Day, and reduced the congestion that caused such severe waits during the 2004 presidential election in Ohio that some citizens were effectively denied the right to vote. Indeed, as noted above, approximately 93,000 Ohioans voted in the three days prior to the 2008 presidential election. Now, as a result of HB 224 and SB 295, most Ohio voters will not be permitted to vote in the three days prior to Election Day for no apparent reason. Without early voting in these last three days before Election Day, tens of thousands of citizens who would have otherwise exercised their right to vote during this time period, including Plaintiffs’ members and supporters, may not be able to participate in future elections at all.
- This unequal burden on the fundamental right to vote violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs have no plain, adequate, or complete remedy at law other than the relief requested in this Complaint. Unless the changes made to Ohio Rev. Code § 3509.03 by HB 224 and SB 295 are enjoined by this Court, Plaintiffs and the voters they represent will be directly and irreparably harmed in upcoming elections.
- For these reasons and those specifically alleged herein, Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants from implementing or enforcing the HB 224 and SB 295 changes to Ohio Rev. Code § 3509.03, thereby restoring in-person absentee voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all Ohio voters.
Whew. I know that some of that is a mouthful. So let me go back and repeat a key sentence — the very first sentence of the Complaint (emphasis added):
Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day – a right exercised by an estimated 93,000 Ohioans in the last presidential election.
Now go back and re-read Romney’s claim that the Obama administration is undermining the voting rights of members of the military or is claiming that it is unconstitutional to allow service members to have extended early voting. See what I mean?
The Obama campaign has not sought to restrict early voting by service members. The Obama campaign hasn’t sought to restrict voting rights for anyone. Instead, the Obama campaign seeks to expand access to early voting to all Ohioans. And Romney calls that an “outrage”?
So here’s the question. I know that Romney wants to be President. I get that. I can appreciate that. And I understand that he wants/needs to highlight policy differences between himself and President Obama. It certainly seems to me that there are plenty of policy distinctions that Romney could try to draw (you know, like Romneycare … oh, wait … no, never mind that one). So why tell this kind of lie? Perhaps more importantly, what does it say about a man who would tell this kind of lie in the first place? What does it say about his judgment and moral character? What does it say about his fitness to hold office? If he’s so willing to lie on subjects like this now, then what should we expect from him if elected to the Presidency?
If you’re curious to see just how often Romney lies, fibs, exaggerates, and so forth, it’s worth checking out Steve Benen’s occasional series Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity (up to Vol. XXVIII as of last Friday). And for more of my own thoughts on lies in politics, please take a few minutes to read my post Responding to Political Lies or some of the other posts that I’ve linked to in that post.