Today, two very different stories will be heard at a hearing before Congress. Eric Eversole and Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez will both testify about the plight of military voters in the 2010 election and whether or not the Justice Department did all it could to protect them. Perez will exaggerate DOJ efforts to protect military voters, and Eric Eversole will testify truthfully about where DOJ dropped the ball in 2010.
In 2010, the Department of Justice was suggesting that states mail overseas ballots to servicemembers that listed federal elections but intentionally omitted state contests. With the approach of the electoral tsunami in the fall of 2010, such DOJ suggestions were bound to have a partisan result in down-ballot contests nationwide.
Along with Fox News, PJ Media led the coverage of what was happening to those serving overseas when they attempted to vote in 2010. Story after story after story described how federal and state governments were failing our men and women in uniform.
States didn’t send ballots overseas in time, and the Justice Department didn’t do anything about it until weeks of bad publicity forced action. In fact, the whole problem began when a Justice official told state election officials in February 2010 that DOJ was averse to litigation to enforce the law, and that a new law demanding ballots mail at least 45 days in advance was ambiguous.
Yesterday, Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) introduced the Military and Overseas Voter Relief Act to send a message that Congress is now watching Tom Perez’s Keystone Kops operation in the Voting Section very closely. His bill would end the Eric Holder DOJ monopoly on protecting military voters, letting soldiers sue directly to force states to send them ballots on time. The simple message: Eric Holder’s Justice Department is no longer trusted to empower men and women in arms to vote, especially in 2012.
There may be some resistance to Barrasso’s plan in the House to give soldiers a right to sue because of federalism concerns. While understandable, that train has left the station. Private rights of action are throughout election law. And what House member would stand in the way of giving a soldier the right to sue when he doesn’t get a ballot when groups like ACORN had private rights of action under federal law? The public shame will be withering should resistance to Barrasso’s bill appear.