DOJ Tells U.S. Soldiers: Go Bother Someone Else!
The Department of Justice has launched a new website to rehabilitate its damaged reputation among uniformed servicemembers. Good luck, because servicemembers have figured out that this administration is not their friend, particularly in protecting their right to vote. It is an effort to put more “lipstick on the military voting pig.”
If you serve in the military, don’t waste your time looking for help through the website. The DOJ doesn’t want to hear from you.
The website is www.servicemembers.gov. “The Department of Justice, in partnership with other federal agencies, is committed to enforcing the federal laws that protect the civil rights of servicemembers,” it harrumphs. But does DOJ act in a timely way to protect men and women in uniform? Hardly.
Congress has figured it out. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez recently testified to the House Administration Committee about what a great job his Voting Section did. The members were not persuaded. Said Representative Aaron Schock:
Some election authorities were derelict in their duty, but were let off too easy by the U.S. Department of Justice and it was the military personnel serving overseas who paid the price by not being allowed to participate in an American election.
Worse for Perez, Chairman Dan Lungren also wasn’t convinced. Lungren found it:
… disturbing that the Department of Justice touted their own success in implementing the MOVE Act when their efforts clearly failed to ensure all military ballots were mailed on time.
“Touted” is right. The Department has failed to ‘fess up to a single mistake from its failure to quickly and aggressively protect military voters in 2010. DOJ still never explained why it waited so long to sue Illinois or New York. DOJ tried to blame the Pentagon for its failure to issue guidance to states on how to comply with federal law or seek a waiver. And worst of all, the people most responsible for engineering the train wreck at DOJ haven’t been reprimanded.
In July 2010, Pajamas first reported that the Department of Justice had failed simply to update their own website with the new federal law which required ballots to mail overseas 45 days before the election. The DOJ website still informed state officials that it was acceptable to mail ballots 30 days before the election even though the new law extending the requirements to 45 days was signed nine months earlier.
During the same nine months, DOJ updated its webpage to help felons reacquire their lost voting rights. At least there is no mystery about the priorities of the Obama administration.
The inability to act efficiently is endemic to the Voting Section. Managers in charge of military voting prefer to dither and dicker, to pause and ponder. No opportunity is spared to avoid military voting litigation. I’m told great offense is taken inside Justice when these tendencies are publicized, but facts are facts. More importantly, these facts matter to our servicemembers.
Consider DOJ’s latest blunder. When a solider goes to www.servicemembers.com to seek DOJ’s help to obtain a ballot or protect other rights, DOJ disappears and hides. At the “Contact Us” link, there is a bait and switch. If you have a problem coming home and keeping your old job, “please contact the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at (800) 336-4590 or the Department of Labor.” If you didn’t get your ballot on time, then call the Pentagon. The “Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) maintains a website where you will find detailed information about overseas voting procedures,” but apparently not from DOJ.
The “Contact Us” page should be renamed “Contact Them.”
But if a solider has any questions about the “content” of the webpage, they can always “contact the webmaster” where they can fill out a form because the DOJ “is interested in your comments regarding this website.” Nice job, Justice.
Soon they will be “touting” this useless website too. If nothing else, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez is good at putting lipstick on a pig. Give him credit -- even Perez really seems to believe it isn’t a pig.