By Tula Connell, AFL-CIO
“Romney’s in a bizarro world. He’s suppressing millions of votes in this election and then he lies …”
U.S. military veterans severely criticized Mitt Romney today for supporting laws limiting the right of residents to vote in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Republican-controlled legislatures recently enacted new voting laws. In a press conference this morning, the veterans also took Romney to task for accusing President Obama of suppressing the vote of military veterans because the Obama campaign filed a lawsuit seeking to block an Ohio law that restricts a successful early voting program.
Said former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who served two deployments in Iraq after 9/11:
When it comes to Mitt Romney, I feel he’s in a bizarro world. He’s suppressing millions of votes in this election and then he lies and says President Obama is trying to suppress the vote. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
After the 2000 presidential election voting debacle, Ohio enacted a series of laws to protect the right to vote, including a 2005 measure allowing in-person early voting three days prior to the election. This year, the Ohio Republican legislature eliminated the three-day early voting period, for everyone except members of the military. The Obama lawsuit seeks to restore voting rights for all Ohioans, not just those serving in the armed forces.
Also speaking at the press conference today, which marks the 47th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, Former Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio), an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, says Romney’s attack on Obama is not based on facts but is “purely political.”
It’s saddening to see Republicans use veterans as cover fire for their true motives, which is to make it harder to vote across the state.
In Pennsylvania, Republican state lawmakers this year passed a law that severely limits the type of identification acceptable for voting—making more than 400,000 voters in Philadelphia alone unable to meet the new requirements, and making a military ID unacceptable. That means “we have veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan” who don’t have a driver’s license and so can’t vote, said Murphy.
The way the Republicans wrote the bill in Pennsylvania, [a military] ID isn’t good enough to vote.
Gil Parr, who served in the U.S. Airforce from 1962-1965, is among veterans in Pennsylvania whose military ID isn’t good enough to let him vote.
Also speaking at the press conference, sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Paul Eaton, a 30-year U.S. Army veteran, had the strongest words against Romney’s potential role as the nation’s commander-in-chief. Saying the military looks for “cool, calm, predictable leaders,” Eaton said,
I regret that we have someone in the Republican Party right now who is failing on each count.
The AFL-CIO voter outreach campaign is addressing such challenges registered voters face as inadequate election administration, lack of access to required photo ID and intimidation and dirty tricks on Election Day. Find out more at the AFL-CIO website MyVoteMyRight.org, a resource hub for voters that includes state-by-state fact sheets on voting laws and voter registrations rules.