The first set of Congressional hearings to investigate the failures of the Department of Justice to monitor the implementation and compliance with the MOVE Act are scheduled for next Tuesday. Accuracy-challenged Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez takes the stand to put lipstick on the DOJ military voting enforcement pig. The hearings should be full of fireworks, especially given the release of a study by the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF). The study confirmed many of the issues raised by me, as well as the Military Voter Protection Project (MVP), about the implementation of the MOVE Act and the Voting Section’s tepid enforcement of the law.
In particular, the survey demonstrates (despite multiple warnings from military rights groups such as the MVP) that over one-third of all overseas citizens were disenfranchised in the 2010 election. The OVF survey also revealed that the MOVE Act had not been fully or uniformly implemented in numerous jurisdictions across the country. That falls on DOJ for a variety of reasons. Amazingly, 97% of the respondents to the survey were overseas citizens (think, student at the Sorbonne) with 25% living in Canada and Great Britain and the survey did not include overseas military voters. Military voters operating in war zones find significantly more challenges in receiving and returning absentee ballots.
Why has the Department of Justice let a private non-profit do its investigative work and reveal gaps in a statute they should be enforcing? Perhaps the whole business should be outsourced from DOJ – by giving soldiers the right to sue instead of only Eric Holder. The blame for the lack of uniformity and implementation of the MOVE Act rests fully on the Voting Section. Despite the clear mandate of Congress, the Voting Section has other priorities, like playing solitaire and coffee breaks (because no work is being done.) While Tom Perez blustered about what a great job DOJ did, over a third of overseas voters were disenfranchised. The blame for the lack of uniformity and halting implementation of the MOVE Act rests fully on the Department of Justice Voting Section, and the people there in charge.
Early in 2010, OVF argued that the states and DOJ should not be criticized too strongly due to the difficulty in implementing the MOVE Act. Perhaps their own numbers will now convince them otherwise that this record level of disenfranchisement cannot continue.