Kent Brockman:  And, as always, we end our broadcast with news on the lighter side. It’s the time of year when the swallows return to Springfield. [cut to swallows crashing into dome, as hungry cats await below]

Like the swallows returning to Springfield, the battle over Ohio’s voting laws is heating up again.  Back in May, Professor Moke warned about “furious action in Columbus involving voting rights” as a result of a “Republican strategy to suppress voting turn out in the fall.”  He explained that the Republican dominated General Assembly would likely pass “restrictive new election laws that will take effect in time for the upcoming election.”

Yesterday, the Obama campaign filed a federal lawsuit seeking to restore three days of early voting.  H/T to the Hill for posting a copy of the Complaint.

This is Swing State Ohio.  So we feel safe predicting that more litigation will follow.

The background to this lawsuit:  In 2008, early voting was permitted 35 days before the election.  The Republicans last year passed House Bill 194.  This bill reduced the early voting window to about 11 days.  Significantly, the bill prohibited early voting on the three days immediately before the election.

When progressives gathered enough signatures to force a referendum on House Bill 94, the GOP repealed the law.  However, separate legislation eliminated early voting in the three days immediately preceding the election for everyone but military families.  (The exception for military families was necessary to comply with federal law.)

The argument in the Obama Campaign’s complaint is fairly simple:  allowing some people to vote early but not others violates the equal protection guarantees of the United States Constitution.

Why is this important?  This report by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates estimates that almost one fifth of early votes were cast in the three days prior to the election, and an analysis by the Dayton Daily News concluded that the elimination of early voting on the three days before the election would hurt Democrats more than Republicans. 

The Dayton Daily News analyzed voter patterns from the 2008 presidential election and found that “precincts won by Democrat Barack Obama had significantly more early votes than those that went for his Republican challenger, John McCain.”  In other words:  “the more a precinct went for Obama, the more early, in-office votes were cast.”

Let’s not mince words:  eliminating early voting on the three days immediately before the election will have a disproportionate impact on Democratic voters.  That is why the Republicans pushed for this change.