Wisconsin could have done what Florida, Georgia or Vermont did, and fix the problem in the nearly twelve months since the MOVE Act was passed. It’s a question of priorities. Wisconsin could have just gotten the job done like other waiver-requesting states did when their waivers were rejected. The primaries in Wisconsin are on September 14, but the DOJ settlement won’t require ballots to be printed and mailed until October 2.
This is what happens when government bureaucrats negotiate with other government bureaucrats. They are completely oblivious to the private sector solutions to the problem, such as printing technology, and instead allow a tedious 18 days to go by before ballots are mailed.
This settlement shows a slavish devotion to plodding process, to doing things without any sense of urgency. It contrasts starkly with the methods and mindset of our men and women serving in combat zones.
Could DOJ have done something differently? Absolutely. DOJ could have sued Wisconsin in June once it was clear the State would not comply with MOVE. If the DOJ took the timid approach and didn’t sue because it thought a waiver might be sought, they could have sued immediately upon the denial of the waiver application. They didn’t. Justice could have then filed a motion for a temporary injunction seeking an order to force Wisconsin to print ballots and mail them a few days after the conclusion of the September 14 primary. Similarly, Justice should have used the pending motion to leverage a better settlement.
But all that requires swift efficient work, speed, resolute decision making, and the courage to enter a courtroom — traits in short supply in military voting enforcement at the DOJ.
DOJ also could have had the courtesy to respond to the draft Pentagon waiver guidance that was sent in the spring. DOJ could have reviewed the draft and provided a written response. Because it failed to do so, no final waiver guidance was ever given to the states. This alone calls for consequences.
Simply put, the DOJ allowed Wisconsin to do less than the law allowed. Like Julie Fernandes rewriting the Motor Voter law, bureaucrats nullified important protections for military voters in the Wisconsin settlement.
Compare this timorous approach to what just happened to Cuyahoga County, Ohio. About 6,000 Americans who grew up in Puerto Rico live there. DOJ threatened to sue the county unless Spanish ballots were used across the whole county. The problem is that the need for Spanish ballots doesn’t exist across the whole county. And the law doesn’t even allow a county-wide remedy.
No matter. When it comes to Spanish ballots, the DOJ demanded a remedy that went beyond the law. When it comes to our military voters, the DOJ negotiated a remedy that was less than the law requires.
Expect more of the same regarding Hawaii and the District of Columbia, two more states grossly out of compliance with the MOVE Act.
It’s really just a question of priorities, of favored political constituencies. It’s a dangerous game of politicization to play considering the mood of the country. It is one more incident that grows the coming wave.