- Arkansas voter ID law struck down by state judge
- FDA proposes ban on e-cigarette sales to minors
- Bad omen? Italian man crushed to death by John Paul II crucifix
- Company stopped from accepting abortion waste
- Girl surprises Michelle Obama with unemployed dad’s resume
- ‘Harry Potter’ religion class seeks to enlighten students on ‘God, sin, and theodicy’
- ‘Optionally piloted’ Black Hawk helicopter clears tests; future missions to go ‘fully unmanned’
- Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded
- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
EVERSOLE: Military votes don’t count
Obama Justice Department excuses failure to deliver ballots to troops
Military voters must feel like Bill Murray’s character in GroundhogDay. Election after election, certain state and local election officials fail to meet the deadline for sending absentee ballots. The outcome is often the same - thousands of ballots are received too close to the election to be returned or, if they are returned, the ballots arrive after the deadline to be counted. In either case, the military voter is disenfranchised.
Congress attempted to fix this time loop in 2009. The MOVE Act was a new law that created a simple requirement: State and local election officials had to send absentee ballots to military voters at least 45 days before an election. Yet, this simple requirement has been hard to follow.
In 2010, for example, local election officials in at least 14 states failed to comply with the new law. The worst offenders, counties and boroughs in New York and Illinois, missed the deadline by more than two weeks. More than 40,000 military and overseas ballots were impacted by this failure with many of the ballots being sent only 25 days before the election.
Two years later, military voters are waking to the same rotten story in the presidential primaries.
Thus far, at least three states - Alabama, Ohio and Wisconsin - have had local election officials that failed to mail their absentee military ballots on time. Wisconsin and Alabama are repeat offenders from 2010.
Much of the blame for this recurring nightmare rests with the Department of Justice and its Voting Section. Time and again, the Voting Section has been dilatory in its investigations and has failed to take timely action. These failures were well documented in 2010.
But, even when the Voting Section does act, the negotiated settlements with states often lack meaningful relief or real consequences for the local election officials who missed the deadline.
Take, for example, the case against New York in 2010. Even though standard mail delivery to a war zone may take 30 or more days for the one-way delivery of a ballot, the Voting Section negotiated a settlement that allowed counties and New York City to mail absentee ballots using standard mail delivery. In other words, many of the ballots sent under the agreement would not arrive before the election.
The flawed nature of the New York settlement soon became evident. According to New York’s official data, local election officials rejected more than 30 percent of the absentee ballots that were returned by military voters in 2010. These voters should have been protected by the Voting Section, but they weren’t.
Nor has the Voting Section learned anything from 2010. Like the New York case, the Voting Section is once again allowing local election officials to mail absentee ballots to war zones less than 30 days before the election. In Wisconsin, many of the ballots were sent less than 25 days before the election. That is simply not enough time.
The problem in Wisconsin, however, may be much worse than reported. According to settlement agreement, there were at least 350 municipalities that failed to disclose whether they mailed their ballots or whether they mailed them on time. In other words, it is unclear whether nearly 20 percent of the municipalities in Wisconsin sent absentee ballots at all or on time.
Shockingly, the Voting Section took no real action against these nonreporting municipalities. The consent decree required the state to issue an order demanding the data, but provided no consequence for noncompliance. Not surprisingly, 56 municipalities didn’t bother to respond before the election. Their service members in these towns were abandoned by the Voting Section.
Ultimately, if military voters have any hope of ending this time loop, the Voting Section must be willing to demand relief that fully protects our military members and provides real consequences for those election officials failing to comply with the law.
For example, in both Wisconsin and New York, the Voting Section should have demanded that counties and municipalities send all absentee military ballots via express mail delivery - especially if they were being sent to a war zone. That remedy not only would have provided additional protection for the troops, it would have provided a real incentive to avoid future violations.
To the extent that local jurisdictions are unwilling to respond to official requests by state and federal officials, as was the case in Wisconsin, they should be hauled to court. That, too, will provide a little incentive to avoid future violations.
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Only IRS employees could expect rewards for failing to pay their taxes
Get Breaking Alerts
- Holder cancels appearance in OKC amid angry protests
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Gun control supporters send message to NRA
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Nevada rancher's racial remarks cost him range of support
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don't punish unborn for parents' sins
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fraud minimal in house-call health care
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Palestinian Authority on 'jihad-care'?
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Recalling foresight of Reagan, Thatcher on SDI
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A double standard on pejoratives?