- - Monday, November 5, 2012

The men and women who risk their lives to preserve freedom for all Americans are at risk of losing one of the very freedoms they protect.

Overseas military absentee voting was abysmal in 2008 — only 20 percent of overseas military turned in absentee ballots — and it looks like it’s going to be even worse in 2012. In Virginia and Ohio, military and overseas ballots have fallen 70 percent since 2008, according to the Military Voter Protection Project. Ohio received only 9,700 ballots in September, whereas in September 2008, it received 32,000.

So, why aren’t soldiers voting? In many cases they simply can’t, and they have their commander in chief, President Obama, to blame.

Hundreds of thousands of our uniformed personnel have been shut out of the process, and we can thank the Obama administration and even the Obama campaign for this tragedy. After poor turnout in 2008, Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (Move) Act to ensure that all military are provided with the opportunity to vote. The act put standards in place, such as mailing absentee ballots no later than 45 days before an election and requiring installation voting assistance offices to be built at most military bases and posts.

The Pentagon has utterly failed to meet these standards.

As of September, the Department of Defense inspector general’s office found that the Obama administration had “not established all the [assistance offices] as intended by the Move Act.”

Frankly, that’s an understatement. Only 116 of the 229 mandated offices were constructed, and of the 116, many were set up after their projected deadline and in places not often visited on military facilities.

The explanation? The Obama administration by way of the Pentagon blamed a lack of funds for their failure to comply with the law. That’s right, the same administration that has spent more money in less time than any other in American history is pleading poverty when it comes to ensuring that our military can vote in this year’s presidential election.

The same Obama administration that funded Solyndra, Obamacare and Cash for Clunkers couldn’t spare any change to help ensure that our nation’s heroes can exercise the right to vote.

We can afford to send $2 billion to the Egyptian government, run by the radical Muslim Brotherhood — whose president has recently called for the destruction of Israel — but we can’t fund efforts allowing our own soldiers to vote?

It’s a national disgrace. Worse, the facts make us wonder if it is intentional. After all, members of the military vote overwhelmingly Republican.

While selectively choosing not to fund this law, Mr. Obama and his Department of Justice have at the same time been on a crusade suing states with voter-identification laws, accusing them of “voter suppression.”

Where is the Justice Department when it comes to our military voters? Where’s the American Civil Liberties Union? Where is the commander in chief?

The Obama administration should be prosecuted for knowingly and willingly violating the Move Act, as well as the Voting Rights Act.

Team Obama is establishing a record of behavior regarding military voters that should call into question the validity of the process. The Obama campaign recently sued the state of Ohio for extending military voting by three days. It didn’t want to give our armed forces special treatment, stating in the lawsuit that the extension was “arbitrary” and had “no discernible rational basis.”

No rational basis? Ensuring that our military personnel overseas have the tools and time to vote seems reasonable, rational and part of our moral obligation to them. Historically, they don’t often support his anti-military policies and have a history of voting against liberals.

The effect of this disenfranchisement is already being felt. Only 2 percent of active-duty military families have voted in the swing states of Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio thus far. Only 16 percent even made requests for ballots in Florida. The military vote could make or break the election — as it did in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.

This year, the president has given himself a big advantage and should be ashamed of choosing politics over our servicemen.

Mitt Romney needs to tell Mr. Obama to stop disenfranchising our military. All Americans should hold the president accountable for this crime. Instead of defending voter fraud and allowing voters without identification to cast their ballot, Mr. Obama should be fighting for those who fight for us every day.

Ned Ryun is CEO of American Majority Action and sponsor of the national Liberty Headquarters program.