July 25 2012
Time to Comply Fully with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act
Vicki E. Alger
The same men and women who risk their lives defending freedom abroad are being denied one their most basic rights at home: the right to vote. Roger Hedgecock writes in Human Events:
In the voter fraud versus voter suppression debate, the biggest suppression of the vote, and the most scandalous, has gone virtually unnoticed. Deployed members of the American military have the most difficulty getting absentee ballots and casting their vote on time than any other group of Americans.
According to the Military Voters Protection Project (MVPP), only 20 percent of the 2.5 million military voters were able to request and return their absentee ballots on time in the 2008 election. In response, in 2009, Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE). MOVE requires states to mail absentee ballots at least 45 days before an election; use electronic delivery systems where possible; and require express mail delivery for returning absentee ballots.
The MOVE Act passed with just 75 days left before the 2010 election. The results were even worse. Just 5 percent of military voters returned their ballots on time to be counted.
According to testimony by Thomas Perez, assistant Attorney General for civil rights at the Justice Department, one third of overseas troops who wanted to vote in 2010 couldn’t.
…This close to election 2012, implementation of the MOVE Act is still spotty among the states. According to MVPP, 15 states…have fully implemented MOVE….MVPP identifies Alabama, California, Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin as doing the worst job in complying with the MOVE Act. …
Overall, 90 percent of absentee ballots sent to American civilians living abroad are returned and counted. For military personnel, the number is two thirds. Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-Calif.) chair of the House Administration Committee thinks the states and the Justice Department ought to do better. …
There is a Federal Voting Assistance Program with a website (fvap.gov) dedicated to helping military members and their families to vote.
Protecting our service members’ basic American rights should be a top priority for state policy makers.