Opinion

Unsettling pattern suppresses Military vote in Wisconsin

We hear numerous outcries from the Department of Justice over voter suppression, but rarely when it applies to the military.

They risk life and limb for us and spend extended periods away from friends and family to make sure we continue to enjoy the rights and freedoms that distinguish us as Americans. Why, then, are we denying our service men and women the sacred right to vote?

Yesterday GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney learned that at least 30 Wisconsin cities failed to send absentee ballots out to the military members deployed overseas who requested them within the 45 days prior to election as required by law.

The Romney campaign, through Anthony Principi, immediately fired a letter off to the chairman of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, whose job it is to oversee these matters. Principi is the Romney Coalition’s National Chair for Veterans and Military Families.

His letter began, “The right to vote may be the most sacred right of American citizenship—and no Americans have done more to earn their right to vote than the men and women in uniform, who risk their lives defending the freedoms this nation holds dear.”

Principi notes that this isn’t the first time Wisconsin has been lax in this regard. “This violation is particularly unsettling in light of the fact that, only six months ago, a federal court entered a consent decree against Wisconsin and the Government Accountability Board for similar violations of military voting rights.”

Principi eventually offered a solution: “I urge you to do everything in your power to correct your office’s violations of military voting rights. Specifically, you should (a) immediately take steps to ensure the transmission of absentee ballots to military voters, (b) extend the deadline by which election officials must receive the completed ballots of military voters, and (c) notify each military voter to whom your office has transmitted or will transmit an absentee ballot of the extended deadline for returning completed absentee ballots.”

Principi is a former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

 

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