File this one under politics vs. law. From Ryan J. Reilly at TPM:
A federal judge sided with the Obama campaign on Friday and ruled that Ohio made an "arbitrary" decision when it took away early-voting rights for most voters but carved out a special exemption for military and overseas voters.
Ohio allows "early voting" in the three days prior to the election. The legislature acted to abolish early voting, except for uniformed and overseas citizens. The Obama Administration sued and it just won a victory in court.
The Romney Campaign attacked the Administration on the grounds that it was trying to stop military personal from voting. This may have been good politics but it was bad logic. Whichever side won, military voters would get to vote three days early. If the Administration had lost, those voters (and overseas voters) would be the only people to enjoy that privilege.
It is pretty clear what the strategy was behind the change in law. Most of the people who vote early are apparently inclined to vote Democrat. Ending early voting for most voters doesn't necessarily mean those folks won't vote, but it might mean that some of them won't vote. Military voters are probably more inclined to vote Republican. This would be unlikely to result in more than a small advantage for the GOP, but in a very close election it might make the difference.
Politically speaking, it is hard to defend the change in the law. Manipulating the election laws to benefit one party over another is hardly unusual in American politics. See gerrymandering. It is hard to see it as anything other than an unfortunate consequence of the system.
Legally speaking, this looks like a very dubious result. There is no reason why the election laws can't make special allowances for certain classes of voters. Disabled voters, for example, might be given more time to vote or special machines. Uniformed citizens might be allowed to vote early or even late, as a concession to the sacrifices they make. A state might provide ballots in languages other than English but they don't have to provide ballots in all languages or ballots specially designed for the learning impaired.
What if Ohio had not had a general early voting rule, but had created one specifically for citizens in uniform? Such a regulation would make plenty of sense and I am guessing would have been more difficult to challenge. It would have resulted in exactly the same situation. The logical implication of the district court decision is that any advantage given to one group of voters but not to others is a violation of constitutional rights. That looks to me like a bad rule.