The crack Department of Justice unit set up to protect military voters is beginning to resemble the Keystone Kops operation of 2008. It turns out that after they concluded that all the military ballots in Illinois went out on time, they were wrong.
In fact, ballots in one of the largest counties in the state, St. Clair County, did not go out early enough to comply with federal law. In fact, it is unclear whether or not they have gone out at all.
Yet inside the DOJ, the crack unit made inquiries in Illinois and went away satisfied that all was well, nothing to worry about.
Add to this that the DOJ finally got around to filing a lawsuit against Guam for failing to send out military ballots — something that still hasn’t been accomplished despite the September 18 deadline. DOJ waited seventeen excruciating days before filing an enforcement action, even though it was apparent that they were breaking federal law on September 19, at the latest.
These most recent failures demonstrate why James Cole, the nominee to be deputy attorney general, is not going to be confirmed any time soon. Senator John Cornyn of Texas has placed a hold on Cole because of the failures of the DOJ Voting Section to aggressively enforce military voting. The Illinois and Guam problems won’t help
Instead of aggressive enforcement to protect military voting rights, the DOJ has been cutting deals with states like Wisconsin which ignore the congressional mandate that ballots be mailed at least 45 days before the election. Because DOJ did nothing all year to enforce the 45-day mandate, they cut deals that ignored the numeric minimums in law.
Then there is New York, which requested and received a waiver of the MOVE Act and promised to send absentee ballots no later than October 1, 2010 — that is, a mere 32 days before the election. Unfortunately, New York could not even meet this requirement. On October 5, 2010, the state sent an email to the Federal Voting Assistance Program admitting that at least four counties and the city of New York had yet to mail absentee ballots.
The DOJ likes to trumpet that “twenty people are on the Move Act Unit.” Before there was any attention, and before Senator Cornyn put a hold on Cole, the number was about five. The “Move Act Unit” didn’t even include a DOJ lawyer and Iraq vet who served as an overseas voting assistance officer.
Senator Cornyn ought to ask General Holder why the talents of this seasoned officer attorney were not utilized.
In the meantime, look for the DOJ to miss even more instances of noncompliance with the MOVE Act. The methods they use to detect failures are themselves a failure. Hopefully a new Congress can get to the bottom of this malfeasance and the problem can be corrected for the 2012 election. If not by then, perhaps in January 2013.