Ensuring that troops serving overseas have their votes counted could be delayed by some states and the Dept. of Justice.
After the MOVE Act was passed in 2009, states were expected to comply with what US Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) believes is an uncomplicated mandate. “The MOVE Act’s text is clear,” Cornyn wrote in a letter to the Dept. of Justice in July.
Cornyn wrote the letter about the MOVE Act after learning about remarks made during the 2010 Winter meeting of the National Asso. of Secretaries of State.
Cornyn’s letter asserted, “…the Deputy Chief of the Voting Section told state election officials that the legislative language regarding waivers is not completely clear, that the provisions of the law are ‘fairly general,’ that it is ‘somewhat of an open question as to what type of information’ a state must submit to be granted a waiver, that it is unclear whether waivers, once granted, are valid only for one election or permanently, and that litigation to enforce the provisions of the MOVE Act against the states ‘is always the last resort.’ If these are the positions of the DoJ, then they fly in the face of the clear statutory language, undermine the provisions in question, and jeopardize the voting rights of our men and women in uniform.”
Eric Eversole, exec. director of the Military Voter Protection Project, told Fox News, "It's been very clear that some of these states were not going to be in compliance with the Move Act a long time ago...And the Department of Justice, each step of the way, has simply not taken the actions to ensure that the Move Act would be implemented in each of the 50 states."
Complications with military ballots from troops serving overseas have plagued past elections. The MVPP website, citing problems in the 2000 election, states, “The devastating effect of these failures was evident in the 2008 election. Thousands of military voters had their voices silenced when their absentee ballots were sent to wrong addresses, lost in the mail, or mailed too close to the election for the ballot to be returned. Thousands more were disenfranchised when their absentee ballot—through no fault of the military voter—arrived after the election deadline…To make matters worse, the primary entity responsible for protecting military voters, the Voting Section, decided not to pursue these states, even though federal law (i.e., the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) gave the Section wide latitude to protect military voters. The law merely required proof that the state did not provide a military member with a reasonable opportunity, including sufficient time, to vote by absentee ballot. Given the overwhelming evidence on mail delivery times, these cases could have and should have been brought.”
In his letter, Cornyn asked for a state by state breakdown on waiver requests. Cornyn also told the DOJ, “The statute does not create any discretion for the Executive Branch to decide whether or not to enforce its legal requirements.”
Cornyn continued, “ To be in compliance, a state must either mail out the unmarked ballots 45 days before an election or else meet the specific and limited requirements for a waiver. If a state is not in compliance with the statute, there is little room for ‘dialogue’ or negotiation, and the Voting Section should take immediate steps to enforce the law and safeguard military and overseas voting rights, including pursuing litigation whenever necessary.”
Fox News said 10 states and Washington, D. C. And the Virgin Islands have asked for waivers exempting them from complying with MOVE. Delays by the states could subvert the military vote on a wide basis.
Cornyn’s letter reminded DOJ of the nation’s failure to make sure those who are putting their lives on the line get their votes counted: “For far too long in this country, we have failed to adequately protect the right of our troops and their families to participate in our democratic process. The MOVE Act was supposed to end this sad history. The right to participate in democratic elections is fundamental to the American experience.”
Is it possible that refusals by states to comply and delays in oversight by the DoJ on the MOVE Act are politically driven amid a volatile climate ahead of the November, 2010 elections?
For instance, Florida was well-prepared for compliance with the MOVE Act, largely due to the efforts of GOP state congresswoman Sandy Adams who pushed through legislation in May, well ahead of the primaries.
(By Kay B. Day/Aug. 26, 2010)