Early-Voting Battle on VRA Anniversary

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(The Root) — Monday's 47th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act comes against the backdrop of what many see as a nationwide effort to suppress voter participation in America, and a debate between the Obama and Romney campaigns over early voting.


While Romney and his staff have accused Obama of using a recent lawsuit to threaten the ability of military personnel to vote early in Ohio, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod has retorted that that's not the case, Yahoo News reports:

"What that lawsuit calls for is not to deprive the military of the right to vote on the final weekend of the campaign, of course they should have that right," Obama's top campaign advisor David Axelrod told host Chis Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "What that suit is about is whether the rest of Ohio should have that same right. And I think it's shameful that Governor Romney would hide behind our servicemen and women to try and win a lawsuit to try to deprive other Ohioans of the right to vote."

Wallace noted that 15 military groups oppose the lawsuit, including the National Guard Association. But Axelrod suggested they are misinformed. "They need to look at the lawsuit and they need to know that that lawsuit stands up for the right of military service people to vote early but it wants that right for everybody in Ohio," Axelrod said. He then accused Republicans of trying to shrink voting participation.

Meanwhile, when it comes to voting participation, one organization, Long Distance Voter, has a single goal: to ensure that citizens of all  states are aware of their rights regarding absentee voting (aka "mail-in voting" and "by-mail voting") and early-voting deadlines. It's spreading the word that an increasing number of states offer "no-excuse absentee voting," allowing any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot, and that 32 states and the District of Columbia offer "no excuse" early voting — meaning that voters in these states do not need to provide a reason for voting before Election Day. 

Check out the 2012 Election Calendar (with links to the official election calendars of all 50 states) and 2012 Absentee Voting ID Requirements for your state. Plus, there's a comprehensive resource on how to vote absentee in any state (and in D.C.) at LongDistanceVoter.org. One thing that even Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could probably agree on: Whatever your voting rights may be, you should make sure you know them well before November.

Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root's staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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