- The Washington Times - Monday, October 18, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The White House isn’t protecting voting rights of military personnel stationed abroad. And when it comes to guaranteeing the rights of those who defend our freedom, President Obama’s home state of Illinois is AWOL.

On Friday, three congressmen blasted the Justice Department for its failure to guarantee that our troops can vote in this year’s elections. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, both of California, and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas are the ranking Republicans, respectively, on the Armed Services Committee, the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections and the Judiciary Committee. A letter from them addressed to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas E. Perez gives a foretaste of what the administration will face when Republicans retake the House after next month’s election.

These members are concerned about “widespread noncompliance with federal law, aided and abetted by a [Justice Department] enforcement authority that is entirely ineffective.” The department “not only failed to ensure compliance, but apparently was not even aware when widespread noncompliance occurred.” In light of other examples of the department’s unequal enforcement of voting laws, they “can only wonder whether the failure to effectively ensure compliance with [the law guaranteeing ballots to the military] is a result of deciding which laws passed by Congress are worthy of enforcement.” Left unsaid was the logical conclusion that Justice’s failure stems from political motives because military voters tend to favor Republicans over Democrats.

At least 16 states or territories are or recently were in noncompliance with the law requiring military ballots be mailed at least 45 days before Election Day so they can reach troops stationed in remote locales. The most widespread violations appear to be in Illinois, where “at least 34 out of Illinois’ 110 jurisdictions failed to comply,” according to Mr. McKeon, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Smith. On top of that, whistleblower J. Christian Adams reported yesterday, Chicago election officials are sending a suspicious number of ballots electronically rather than on paper. When these are returned by service members, they “must be re-created” by local election officials onto ballots that can to be tallied by Sequoia ballot machine readers. Such a complicated process poses an invitation to political shenanigans, especially in a place with a reputation for ballot stuffing like the Windy City.

Despite months of warnings from outside watchdogs, Justice officials sit on their hands. “Since July, we have been emphasizing the importance of ensuring that absentee ballots are sent to military voters on time,” M. Eric Eversole, a former Justice attorney who now heads the nonprofit Military Voter Protection Project, told The Washington Times. “Here we are, two weeks before the election, and we are still searching for answers in a number of states. It is immensely frustrating.”

When we all go to vote on Nov. 2, Americans who respect military service should remember the Obama administration’s complicity in this outrage.

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