Obama’s Military Voter Suppression Campaign
By Matthew Vadum
The Obama administration appears to be violating the civil rights of nearly 200,000 U.S. soldiers around the world by deliberately disenfranchising them.
These are the same servicemen and servicewomen who may have to put their lives on the line at some point to respond to the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya yesterday.
News of the Obama administration’s apparent crackdown on military voting comes days after the Obama campaign succeeded in convincing a liberal federal judge to strike down parts of an Ohio election reform law. Analysts say the ruling gives Obama an electoral advantage in the crucial battleground state.
Perhaps the administration’s lack of enthusiasm for safeguarding soldiers’ votes has something to do with the fact that Republican John McCain garnered 54 percent of the military vote in 2008. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that GOPer Mitt Romney scored the support of 58 percent of the military compared to the anemic 34 percent support that President Obama received according to a Gallup poll this past May.
Although the federal government moves with lightning speed to attack desperately needed state voter identification laws, it seems barely aware of its obligations under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009.
The law was created to help deployed soldiers, many of whom are constantly on the move, to exercise the right to vote that they fight to protect. The law requires the Pentagon to create an “installation voting assistance office,” or IVAO, for every military base close to a combat zone.
IVAOs are supposed to help military personnel navigate the labyrinth of often confusing voting rules of the nation’s 55 states and territories. But IVAOs can’t help anybody vote if they don’t exist.
A recent report by the Department of Defense’s inspector general found that in half of the 229 overseas military installations the DoD hadn’t even bothered to set up the IVAO facilities that the law mandates.
“Results were clear. Our attempts to contact IVAOs failed about 50% of the time,” according to the Pentagon watchdog’s report. “We concluded the Services had not established all the IVAOs as intended by the MOVE Act because, among other issues, the funding was not available.”
Pam Mitchell, acting director of the DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, brushed off the report. “I strongly believe that voting-assistance is the best that it has ever been,” she said, presumably with a straight face.
Setting up IVAOs as required by the law costs a piddling $15 million to $20 million per year — yet it’s not happening. Remember that President Obama presides over the most spendthrift administration in the history of the world. His administration endlessly hypes phantom voter suppression stateside, accusing good government groups like True the Vote of voter intimidation while letting the baton-wielding black shirts of the New Black Panther Party run wild.
As Investor’s Business Daily reports, the Obama administration “appears unconcerned that a study by the nonpartisan Military Voters Protection Project found that in 2008 less than 20% of 2.5 million military voters successfully voted by absentee ballot.”
“In 2010, that participation shrank to a scandalous 5%,” the editorial added.
Under the MOVE Act, the Defense Department has granted waivers to states that claim to be unable to mail absentee ballots to soldiers the required 45 days before Election Day. That period is mandated to make sure there is sufficient time for ballots to be sent to and then returned by soldiers.
In 2010 all the jurisdictions that received waivers under the MOVE Act were won by President Obama in the 2008 election. Those states and the corresponding popular vote for the Obama-Biden ticket were Delaware (62 percent), Massachusetts (62 percent), New York (63 percent), Rhode Island (63 percent), and Washington (57 percent).
The Obama administration has every reason to believe it can get away scot-free with disenfranchising America’s fighting men and women.
After all, soldiers can’t fight back.
They’re easy to push around because they are not allowed to openly complain about the way their Commander-in-Chief is treating them. Look at what’s happening to former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette (pen name: Mark Owen) who wrote the book No Easy Day, a firsthand account of how SEAL Team Six put Osama bin Laden on an express train to Jahannam. Obama’s handpicked secretary of defense, radical leftist Leon Panetta, is reportedly considering legal action against Bissonnette.
When Republicans complain about the Obama administration’s flagrant, obscene violation of soldiers’ voting rights, their protests can easily be dismissed by the media as self-interested grandstanding.
Six U.S. senators — John Cornyn (R-TX), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and James Inhofe (R-OK) — have asked the Pentagon to make a serious good faith effort to protect the votes of military personnel.
“The price of [the Department of Defense's] failure to follow the law will likely be paid this November by military service members and their families, whose voting rights were to have been safeguarded by this provision,” they wrote.
It is a safe bet that the senators’ letter of complaint is gathering dust in the office of an Obama bureaucrat somewhere.
“You guys make a pretty good photo-op,” President Obama quipped three years ago when he visited 1,500 soldiers at a U.S. air base in South Korea.
Indeed they do.