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Commander in Chief Fails Military Voters, Again

Of all people, our troops get disenfranchised. More:  NAACP Takes Over Houston Polling Station

by
Alicemary Leach

Bio

November 4, 2012 - 9:09 am

Our armed forces need a commander in chief who protects the most basic right of every American citizen — the right to vote. Our armed forces risk their safety and their lives to protect each citizen’s right to vote. The president needs to protect theirs.

Obama and his attorney general are responsible for the protection of military voting rights, yet they have stood idly by while our troops have been disenfranchised.

Overseas military voters need ballots sent to them in time so they have the opportunity to vote and to return their ballots. However, various jurisdictions have failed to comply with federal law deadlines to mail the ballots.

Attorney General Eric Holder has been contacted by concerned citizens as well as by senators on the Judiciary Committee urging the Department of Justice to file lawsuits against local authorities across the country that have not sent military ballots in time for servicemembers’ votes to count. Despite receiving this information, the Department of Justice has failed to act in many states, including New Mexico and Connecticut.

Since lawsuits were not filed by our Department of Justice, others outraged by the disenfranchisement of the military have stepped in. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit against 24 local communities to extend the counting deadline for military ballots. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign filed a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin, and filed complaints with state election officials in Michigan and Mississippi.

After the Romney campaign filed a complaint in Vermont, the Obama administration followed with a lawsuit in the Green Mountain State claiming an interest in helping military voters. It is, indeed, interesting that the administration chose to institute legal action in a state dominated by Democrats, but not in other, more populous states with greater majorities of Republicans and independents.

Why they did not intercede in crucial swing states such as Michigan or Wisconsin?

Ignoring military voters has unfortunately become a pattern for Obama and his administration. Instead of pursuing cases in Illinois and New York in 2010, the Department of Justice instead focused 2012 efforts on the small territory of Guam.

In addition, the Obama administration’s Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program’s priorities are not in order and are dysfunctional. An inspector general’s report indicated that many military voting assistance offices were not available. Under public pressure, Defense Secretary Panetta requested a review of the offices, but more than a week has passed after the review reached Panetta’s desk and nothing has changed.

When does Obama actually file a lawsuit? Obama for America along with the Democrat Party took legal action to oppose the efforts to have extended hours for military voters’ ballots to count in Ohio. And this action was taken with extreme urgency to make sure it was applicable in the 2012 election for the critical Buckeye State.

Obama is the president of the entire United States and all its citizens. Holder is chief law enforcement officer at the United States Department of Justice. Their adherence to and protection of constitutional rights should not be limited to those states where polls indicate Obama will win on Election Day. The commander in chief and attorney general should defend the voting rights of all Americans, no matter for whom they cast a ballot.

When a servicemember is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country, his commander and general must protect his most basic constitutional right — the right to vote. If not, self-interested leaders stationed in Washington, D.C., must be relieved of their duties.

More: 

NAACP Takes Over Houston Polling Station

Ms. Leach served on Capitol Hill as staff counsel on several committees investigating various Clinton administration scandals.
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