Why PJM's Military Voting Monitoring Project Is So Important
Pajamas Media is asking military voters who had problems getting their ballots to send their stories to email@example.com. Why? Because the MOVE Act may likely be rewritten next year, and information about problems you experienced will be essential to get it right in 2012.
Military voters don’t like to rock the boat; they don’t want to be attached to gripes. Here’s how Pajamas Media will deal with that -- simply, by making sure your privacy is protected if you want it. PJM has gotten information already, especially from military families. It’s clear by now that military voting this year turned into a fiasco, despite the new MOVE Act.
Sixteen states and territories, at least, blew it and didn’t mail ballots on time. The Maine secretary of state, amazingly, told Fox News last week that compliance has been “pretty impressive.” I’d hate to see what he thinks is pretty “awful.”
Pajamas Media had been predicting this fiasco as far back as July 2010. The reasons are many, and were predicted. For starters, some states like New York, Maryland, Colorado, and Wisconsin did nothing to change their laws. They just didn’t care enough to get the job done and bring the ballot mailout dates in line with the MOVE Act’s 45-day guarantee. Maryland passed legislation to allow 16 year olds to register to vote, but couldn’t take the time to ensure that military members got a ballot in time by complying with the MOVE Act. State apathy was one reason for the fiasco.
But the Eric Holder Justice Department deserves enormous blame. As far back as February, a manager at the Voting Section told state election officials that the new law was vague and the DOJ didn’t really want to sue anyone. State election officials were flabbergasted and acted accordingly. They assumed compliance with the new law wasn’t a big deal to the DOJ, the agency charged with enforcement.
Then things really got bad. In the spring, the DOJ never provided the Pentagon waiver guidance despite the Pentagon’s repeated requests. And how many lawsuits did the DOJ file despite the multiple states that were facially out of compliance with too-late primary elections? Zero. The summer dribbled away with analysis, talk, and chatter instead of action.
Then things got even worse. After the September 18 mailing deadline, the DOJ was operating in a fog. Media reports found wholesale noncompliance with the mailing deadlines before the Justice Department did. And even when I broke the story on October 7 that Illinois didn’t mail the ballots in time, it took DOJ 13 days to finally enter a consent decree. It should have taken one day to sue.
And even the consent decrees were weak. In Illinois, the decree extended the mailing deadline a single day, even after ballots mailed two weeks late. The so-called out of court “agreements” the DOJ entered into with states like Alaska and Kansas were even more comic. They weren’t even agreements in the legal sense. They were letters summarizing phone calls. The Alaska “agreement” states it is really a “proposal.” There are no mutual signatures. They are a joke. It is no wonder the DOJ hid them from the public by not including them either on their enforcement page or in the con job press releases written by the DOJ propaganda shop.
And the worst may be yet to come. Despite MOVE Act protections against tossing out military ballots, recounts and extended deadlines loom. Will it take days or weeks for the DOJ to detect non-compliance with laws against tossing the ballots for small errors? Will it take weeks to act again when they discover noncompliance?
With this history, it is no wonder that some on Capitol Hill are looking to rewrite the MOVE Act and write out the DOJ’s monopoly on enforcement. The best thing to protect military voters in 2012 would be to end Eric Holder’s central role in protecting military voters. You don’t deserve a job you can’t do.
The only place where military voting protection has improved is at the Pentagon’s FVAP shop. A moribund operation has been transformed under new leadership. The old leadership developed a reputation characterized by lavish international travel junkets instead of actual protection of military voters. In the summer, the Pentagon granted a few waivers from the MOVE Act they probably should not have granted, such as in New York. But even that bad decision had the DOJ’s fingerprints all over it, as the DOJ was in favor of the waiver.
Pajamas Media now calls on the people who have defended liberty all over the world to defend military voting. PJM wants your stories; your frustration; your examples of late ballots, missing ballots, DOJ unwillingness to help (and willingness to help), and problems with the system. This is what America is all about -- a powerfully informed citizenry fixing problems with an inept government. Without your stories, nothing will improve in 2012. Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.