COLUMBUS, Ohio — Republicans in battleground Ohio accused Democrats of possibly trying to buy votes with pizza.
The Ohio Republican Party filed an election complaint Thursday with the Franklin County Board of Elections alleging the Buckeyes for Obama student organization at Ohio State University violated a law that prohibits offering something of value for a person's vote.
Ohio State is one of America's largest campuses, with more than 56,000 students. Buckeyes for Obama began a series of early vote rallies Oct. 22 that run through Nov. 1. On posters, the events are advertised: "Free Food. Come Together. Make History."
Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett attached an affidavit to his complaint letter quoting an anonymous student staffer of the Obama campaign saying the campaign has an "unlimited" tab with the pizza chain Donatos for the six rallies, being held at the Ohio Union.
Participants also got free bumper stickers and free transportation, the complaint said.
Bennett's letter to directors of the bipartisan election board said "it is reasonable to infer that the individuals handing out food, including the Obama for America staffers, were attempting to — and in fact, may have succeed at — influencing electors to register to vote and/or cast a ballot. Such conduct is clearly prohibited under Ohio law."
A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign deferred comment to the Ohio Democratic Party. The party said the challenge was ironic coming from Republicans who tried to block early voting opportunities ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
"Democrats went to court to fight off the Republican attack on the final three days of early voting. Meanwhile, Republicans threatened us with a lawsuit because they're upset about a pizza party," said party spokesman Jerid Kurtz. "The difference in priorities couldn't be clearer."
County election boards in Ohio are comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats. Ties are broken by the secretary of state, who is currently a Republican.