Friday, August 27, 2010

Will The US Military Be Disenfranchised this November?

Will The US Military Be Disenfranchised this November?
Will Those Fighting To Protect The Right To Vote Not Have Their Votes Counted?

A commentary by J. D. Longstreet
There is concern that Obama’s DOJ, under the leadership of Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, might not be enforcing the new Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act as vigorously as they should.

The MOVE Act, which was passed last October, is supposed to ensure that servicemen and women serving overseas have plenty of time to get in their absentee ballots. However, if the DOJ does not enforce this law by holding the states to compliance, thousands of ballots from US military personnel serving overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, may not arrive back in the home state of the soldier, sailor, Airman, or Marine, in time to be counted in the November 2nd Mid-Term Election.

Eric Eversole, director of the Military Voter Protection Project, a new organization devoted to ensuring military voting rights has said: “It is an absolute shame that the section appears to be spending more time finding ways to avoid the MOVE Act, rather than finding ways to ensure that military voters will have their votes counted… ” Mr. Eversole continued: “The Voting Section seems to have forgotten that it has an obligation to enforce federal law, not to find and raise arguments for states to avoid these laws.” (SOURCE)

The MOVE act requires states to send absentee ballots to overseas military troops 45 days before an election, but a state can apply for a waiver if it can prove a specific “undue hardship” in enforcing it.

Senator Jon Cornyn, Republican of Texas, was one of the co-sponsors of the Move Act. On July 26th he wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder and complained that he is concerned that the DOJ is allowing states to opt out of compliance with the Move Act. In a statement to Fox News Senator Cornyn said: “Military voters have been disenfranchised for decades, and last year Congress acted.” Cornyn went on to say: “But according to recent information, the Department of Justice has expressed reluctance to protect the civil rights of military voters under the new law. All our men and women in uniform deserve a chance to vote this November, and the Obama administration bears responsibility for ensuring that they have it.”

Cornyn continued: “For far too long in this country, we have failed to adequately protect the right of our troops and their families to participate in our democratic process. The MOVE Act was supposed to end this sad history. The right to participate in democratic elections is fundamental to the American experience.” (SOURCE)

At least seven states, plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands, have filed requests for waivers with the USDOJ. If those waivers are granted those states will not have to send ballots to their servicemen and servicewomen overseas on time. That means, even if they DO receive their ballots and get them filled out and mailed back, they will not arrive in their home states in time to be counted.

The list of states, Districts, and US Territories asking for waivers: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, the Virgin Islands, Washington, and District of Columbia. (SOURCE) (We believe this list to be incomplete as some news organizations are reporting as many as twelve states; others are reporting ten states, etc.)

Understand, it is the Department of Defense, which will make the final decision on whether the waivers will, or will not, be granted. BUT -- it is the job of the Department of Justice to see that the law is enforced.

With the democrats set to receive a well deserved drubbing this November, it will not be surprising if those waivers are granted.
The MOVE ACT contains a waiver provision, which allows states to exempt out of the requirements by demonstrating an extreme emergency. BUT, that state must also submit a plan that provides sufficient time for military voters to have their vote counted.

Where is the outrage from the citizens of those states? Isn’t it past time to fire off a letter, an e-mail, or just pick up the phone and call the Secretary of State’s office in that state -- or the state Board of Elections, and demand that they get those ballots to those US citizens who are putting their lives on the line – daily -- to protect the right to vote for ALL Americans, including themselves.

There is something very wrong about disenfranchising a soldier serving his/her country overseas, especially in a time of war. As my father would have said: “If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can get a ballot to a soldier in the field and back in time to be counted.”

This is wrong, folks. Just plain WRONG!

J. D. Longstreet

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