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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.
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