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I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Playing games with military absentee voting…

Tallahassee, FL - The 2000 Presidential election debacle left us with many gifts. The nationally televised statements and actions on everyone's part showed us adults behaving like too many kids in a sandbox. Florida was comedic fodder for years afterwards. We learned the importance of a clear statewide standard, codified in law for what does and does not constitute a vote on punch card or black marker style ballots.

The most disturbing thing to come to light as a result of the 2000 voting mess was how overseas absentee military votes were being handled. After some pushing by veteran's groups, active service support organizations and some of the news media we confirmed that many counties and some states never count the overseas military votes.

Election officials excused this situation saying those ballots were "always late" because they could not be produced and mailed to the voters in time. One idiot stated that those uncounted votes rarely amounted to enough to swing the outcome of an election. He apparently forgot he was addressing a room full of reporters. When pressed by reporters for some proof, he literally said "no more questions" and disappeared never to answer media questions again.

Other elections officials across the country simply refused to confirm or deny that statement saying they didn't keep those kind of statistics. Some were able (brave enough?) to count rejected ballots from overseas addresses and came up with some disturbing results. They found that had those ballots been postmarked and arrived on time roughly a third of local elections and a few national contests would have come out differently .

The media storm surrounding that revelation was incredible. Even Vice President Al Gore's running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, went against the advice of legal teams fighting for Gore in court. Lieberman appeared on national TV and stated without reservation the military votes must be counted. (I always did like him.) Even after the 2000 election, the matter still simmered, unforgotten by military support organizations.

That brought us to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act)(pdf). This act was crafted over the last few years and signed into law by President Obama. It guarantees that US Service Personnel get a reasonable chance to cast their votes. Part of that law requires state election officials to prepare and mail absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election. That should be more then enough time to get the ballot to the serviceman, fill it out and get it back.

Sounds good, right? Wrong.

State and local officials can request waivers through a loop hole in the law. Right now the exact number of states requesting waivers is unknown. It seems the Administration isn't all that anxious to talk about it.

M. Eric Eversole, the executive director of the Military Voter Protection (MVP) Project and former litigation attorney in the Justice Department's Voting Section, wants to know why military voters are being involuntarily disenfranchised. He and J. Christian Adams accused the Justice Department of encouraging states to use waivers to bypass the MOVE Act.

The accusations prompted Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to write a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding answers and requesting specific information about how the agency was going to enforce the MOVE Act provision.

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich responded: "The Department of Justice is firmly committed to ensuring that our men and women serving in the uniformed services and living overseas have the opportunity to vote and to have their votes counted. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue."

Yet the Obama administration refuses to release the waiver requests filed by a dozen states and territories claiming an inability to meet the legal deadline. Eversole and 17 members of Congress led by Rep. Robert E. Latta (R-Ohio), sought this information through formal requests. By Eversole's count, nearly one-third of the states have failed to implement one or more of the key provisions of the MOVE Act, with at least 11 states having not yet implemented the 45-day deadline for mailing absentee ballots, and at least five states having not implemented the electronic-delivery requirement under the MOVE Act.
Fox News: Military Voting Rights at Risk

You have to wonder why these bureaucrats are making it so difficult for service personnel to exercise the most fundamental of rights. If anyone should be granted dispensation to get their votes in and counted, it has to be the men and women that chose to join, maybe fight and possibly die to protect the rest of us.

There is no excuse. If the timing and method of your state and local elections doesn't allow enough time for overseas military voting, then they are doing it wrong and need to fix it.


Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.
- W. C. Fields

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