Defense Department can’t put soldiers, ballots together
Barack Obama is president and commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, but after his attorneys argued in court that service members defending the nation deserve no special accommodation to vote, a number of elected officials are raising questions about the White House’s commitment to their rights.
According to a letter sent by several U.S. senators to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, an appointee of Obama, the federal department has failed in its obligation to make sure service members are allowed to vote.
“Because our service members move regularly between U.S. military installations and overseas locations, their mailing addresses are constantly changing,” said the letter from Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John McCain of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida.
“This challenge makes it critically important that DoD be able to redirect blank ballots effectively and efficiently. Sadly, this is precisely where DoD has failed these overseas troops.”
Time magazine reported just one day before the election that soldiers, sailors and others in the U.S. military lean Republican, noting that while ranks are not a “monolithic bloc,” “the U.S. military plainly tilts toward the GOP.”
The senators said the problem had been identified much earlier and raised as an issue as recently as 2010, because the military was taking up to seven weeks to connect ballots with soldiers.
“These ballots are unlikely to reach these service members until after Election Day has passed,” the senators said.
The actions of the military under Obama, therefore, “could result in the imminent disenfranchisement of thousands,” they said.
“In the 2010 election, DoD’s Military Postal Service Agency documented widespread problems experienced by overseas military voters, and then made a series of formal recommendations to DoD to fix them,” the senators wrote. “It has come to our attention that DoD has failed to implement the MPSA’s top recommendations.”
They continued, “If DoD had followed this recommendation, it would have reduced ballot transit time by several weeks for many overseas service members who are trying to vote.”
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And they cited the potential problems as “especially widespread.”
“We are perplexed as to why DoD did not do everything in its power to modernize the system … to eliminate this roadblock for military service members. … They deserve to have a voice in choosing their elected leaders. Our men and women in uniform should be able to participate in the very same democratic system of government that they defend, not be relegated to mere spectator status because their ballot never reached them.”
The Army Times reported just before the election that ballots apparently were being lost.
“We are investigating reports of possible missing military election ballots. We take this situation very seriously and expect to resolve this matter as quickly as possible,” U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Katina Fields to the publication.
Wrote John Hayward in a commentary at Human Events, “It’s too late to do anything about the current election…………