(Military Downsizing and the Career Prospects of Youths)
Navy Begins Downsizing The Virginian Pilot January 27, 2004
Now for the disenfranchising:
The Scandal of Military Voter Disenfranchisement
We can't depend on the Justice Department to see to it that the states comply with the law regarding absentee ballots being shipped in a timely manner to military personnel overseas.
In his 1952 letter, President Truman called upon the states to fix this problem, and he called upon Congress to enact temporary federal legislation for the 1952 presidential election. He wrote,
Any such legislation by Congress should be temporary, since it should be possible to make all the necessary changes in State laws before the congressional elections of 1954.
Well, it did not work out that way. The Korean War ground to an inconclusive halt in 1952, the issue dropped off our national radar screen, and the states did not fix the problem. Finally, in 2009, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act). This new law requires every state to mail out absentee ballots to military personnel and family members by the 45th day before Election Day (e.g., September 18, 2010). Several sstates with late primaries applied for and received waivers for 2010, and agreed to extend the deadline for the return of ballots mailed in from overseas.This is just the last half of the article, read it all here. Then let us all get to work on fixing this. There is absolutely no reason ballots cannot be requested by email or fax. I have seen it suggested that it be done in several different ways. I think it would be okay if they were emailed to the military personnel and turned into their commanders to be certified as to the person handing them in is the same as the name on the ballot. and then sent by email or fax. LET'S GET TO WORK and get this done.!!
In Illinois, the problem was not a late primary. Indeed, Illinois held its 2010 primary on February 2, 2010. But 35 of 110 Illinois counties seriously missed the September 18 deadline. One of the late counties was St. Clair County, home to 261,000 people and to Scott Air Force Base.
The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing the MOVE Act, but it seems not to take its responsibilities seriously — perhaps because military personnel vote overwhelmingly Republican when they do have the opportunity to vote.
DoJ entered into a consent decree with Illinois that does not solve the problem. In those counties that were seriously late in sending out ballots, the consent decree extends by only one day (from November 1 to November 2) the deadline for the postmark of the marked ballot coming back to the local election official. If Sergeant Smith in Afghanistan receives his ballot on November 3, he cannot cast a ballot that will get counted.
Congress should amend the MOVE Act to clarify that individual military voters have a private right of action to enforce the 45-day rule. We cannot depend upon DOJ to enforce this law in good faith. DOJ, under present management, will paper over MOVE Act violations for the same reason that it condoned voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia in 2008.
Congress should also clarify that military personnel and family members overseas have the right to vote in state and local elections as well as federal elections, and that any violation of the 45-day rule must be remedied by a court order extending both the deadline for the postmark of the marked ballot and the deadline for its receipt.
It is a national scandal that we as a nation are still conducting absentee voting in much the same way that it was conducted during the Korean War — by shipping pieces of paper across oceans and continents by snail mail. In our Armed Forces, classified information is transmitted and received every day by secure electronic means. In commerce, billions of dollars change hands electronically every business day. If electronic means are secure enough for our nation’s most important secrets and for huge sums of money, why is it not possible, in 2010, for deployed service members to vote by a secure means that will guarantee that their ballots are counted?
Captain Wright retired after a career as a judge advocate in the Navy and Navy Reserve. He has been working the military voting issue since 1976.