EDITORIAL: Felons vote, soldiers don’t

Justice Department disenfranchises military, protects Black Panthers

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The Obama Justice Department is doing everything it can to boost Democrats in the upcoming election. It’s helping stifle military votes, facilitating criminal voting and encouraging intimidation at the polls by deep-sixing the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case.

In an Oct. 15 letter representing the views of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich tied together the department’s mishandling of military voting rights and the Black Panther case. Mr. Weich wrote Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, to give assurance that Justice would “not take any action that would be inconsistent with applicable whistleblower protections” against civil rights lawyer Christopher Coates for recent sworn testimony highlighting department abuses. The official also defended Justice’s order to Mr. Coates - which Mr. Coates defied - not to testify about the Black Panther case or broader policy issues.

Mr. Weich then switched gears to put out some gratuitous disinformation about his department’s record. “With respect to voting rights,” he claimed, “the Department is actively working to ensure the successful enforcement of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment [MOVE] Act 2009 so that members of the Armed Forces and citizens living abroad receive their ballots in time to vote in the upcoming federal election.” This bears no relation to reality.

Despite months of warnings, Justice attorneys sat on their hands as 16 states and territories were caught in noncompliance with the MOVE Act. The Military Voter Protection Project, a private organization using volunteer law students, discovered most of the noncompliance well before Mr. Holder’s professional lawyers did. In President Obama’s home state of Illinois, at least 35 counties were noncompliant. Finally yesterday, 32 days after the original deadline for mailing ballots and 13 days after the first reports of massive failure, Justice entered a consent decree. It “calls for a one day extension on the deadline for … soldiers overseas to postmark their ballots,” according to Fox News. “But this decree seems to ignore the fact that some ballots were printed and mailed over two weeks late.”

The same Illinois election officials are rushing ballots - unrequested by inmates - to the Cook County jail. This consummates the Justice Department’s vow - previously highlighted on its website - to help felons in each state reacquire voting privileges. All the while, for nearly a year, Justice refused to update the military-voting section of its website to publicize MOVE Act requirements.

Under the leadership of Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder, felons vote while soldiers don’t, and armed Black Panthers can yell racial epithets at voters but whistleblowers are prohibited from responding to lawful subpoenas. This is how the Obama administration views justice. The midterm elections will send a strong message of disapproval, but hope for an administration change will have to wait for 2012.

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