Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anti-Military Election Board in Virginia

The Right to Vote is cherished by all Americans, albeit practiced by less than 50%. The Right to Vote is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and protected by the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

The US Military places a lot of importance on voting amongst its members and appoints Voting Assistance Officers to ensure that every soldier/sailor/airmen who wishes to exercise their Constitutional Right is able to do so.

There have been obstacles in the past, as Congress has repeatedly stopped military bases from hosting polling stations. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it remains an obstacle. The biggest obstacle is that the vast majority of soldiers on Active Duty and Deployed are not serving in their Legal State of Residence where they may cast their ballots. The Voting Assistance Officer and Program is designed to assist that with the support of the States.

The State of Virginia's Election Board (run by the current Party in Power) has argued before a Federal Court that they can mail absentee ballots the day before the election and are not obligated to do so earlier to support Active Duty and Deployed Virginians. An absentee ballot mailed the day before the election will not be returned by election day nor postmarked by election day. The State of Virginia and the Party in Power is actively seeking to disenfranchise members of the US Military. They are perhaps following the letter of the law, but not the spirit.

The lawsuit filed against the State of Virginia is built around the the DOD Voting Assistance Program: "There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots."

Virginia does allow its service members to utilize the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot which does minimize the requirements for the 30/45 days stated by the DOD and denied by the State Board of Electors. However, the State of Virginia only honors the Federal Write-In Ballot for Federal Office, not State Office. I guess that means it won't work in the 2009 Election for Governor between McDonnell and Deeds.

Apparently the State of Virginia does not value the Right to Vote for military servicemen and women. If you are interested in doing something, please feel free to contact the Virginia State Board of Elections.

I've voted in nearly every election in my home state since I have been on Active Duty. My village election supervisor has worked diligently to ensure I have the required absentee ballot, even for off elections in the Spring that feature only Referendums and the occasional Supreme Court Election. I have paid to mail back every ballot to ensure it arrives by election day. To ensure I can do that, I have to have the ballot at least a week before the election.

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