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  • Disenfranchising Our Military: Shameful Behavior of Virginia Board of Elections

    Absentee ballot from Virginia in 2008 (Photo by Saul Loeb/Newscom)

    The liberal political establishment is always expressing its concern over the possible “disenfranchisement” of voters (claims that almost always turn out to be completely exaggerated), but their concerns seem to disappear when the disenfranchised are military voters. How else can one explain the almost total lack of interest expressed over the pending disenfranchisement of possibly thousands of overseas voters in Virginia, mostly military personnel?

    Just prior to the Nov. 4 election, the McCain-Palin campaign filed a federal lawsuit in Richmond against the Virginia State Board of Elections under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. UOCAVA guarantees the right of military personnel and overseas civilians to vote by absentee ballots in federal elections. The lawsuit claimed that some Virginia counties had mailed absentee ballots too late to be received and returned by military personnel stationed overseas by the Nov. 4 deadline. One of the examples given was a U.S. marine stationed in Western Anbar Province who requested an absentee ballot in August, but did not receive it until October 29. This was far too late to mail it back by the Nov. 4 deadline for receipt by Virginia election officials. The lawsuit requested the federal court to order Virginia to accept as valid all overseas absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 4 and received by Nov. 14.

    Unfortunately, on Nov. 4 the court inexplicably refused to enforce UOCAVA and would not grant any such remedy. It only ordered election officials to record the date and time of receipt of all absentee ballots received after Nov. 4 and to store them in sealable container until further order of the court.

    On Nov. 17, the McCain-Palin campaign was dismissed as a party and the U.S. Department of Justice, which enforces UOCAVA, was allowed to intervene in the lawsuit. DOJ claimed in its motion that some counties had waited until less than two weeks before Nov. 4 to mail out the requested absentee ballots. Thirty days is the absolute minimum time before the election that postal authorities and other experts recommend that such absentee ballots be mailed to overseas voters, particularly military personnel, because of the long delays in overseas mail service. Forty-five days is what is actually recommended, including by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

    The Virginia election board had previously embraced this 45-day standard, issuing guidelines to service members saying that “Virginia requires ballots be mailed no later than 45 days before the November 4, 2008 Presidential Election.” But the court again in another order on Nov. 17 denied the Justice Department’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered the counting of these late received absentee ballots.

    There is another hearing this coming Monday. The Virginia election board is not being represented by the Virginia attorney general, but by a private law firm. Instead of doing everything they can to enfranchise these voters, they are asking that the case be dismissed. The Virginia election board, headed by Jean Cunningham and including two other members, Nancy Rodriguez and Harold Pyon, are now arguing that UOCAVA does not require states to mail out absentee ballots in time for voters to receive them prior to the election because voters can use a federal write in absentee ballot if they do not receive their state ballot.

    This is a complete misreading of the requirements of the federal statute and prior court decisions. The federal write-in ballot is a failsafe that is provided in case there is a problem receiving the state ballot; it does not excuse a state from failing to mail a requested absentee ballot in time for it to be received by the voter. This is particularly true because a write-in ballot does not contain a list of all of the candidates that are running for office in a particular county and a particular state, making it much more difficult for a military voter to cast a vote in all of the different races he is entitled to vote in.

    If the court decides in favor of Virginia and dismisses the lawsuit, it will be a bad precedent for future UOCAVA enforcement cases, since it will sanction states essentially ignoring requests for absentee ballots from overseas voters. It will also result in the disenfranchisement of thousands of overseas voters in this election, including many members of our military who are in dangerous places around the world putting their lives on the line for this county. Such a decision would be shameful, and the members of the Virginia Board of Elections should be ostracized for taking such a legal position in this matter.

    It is vital that the Department of Justice continue to pursue this matter, including an appeal if it is wrongly decided at the trial court level. The state attorney general should also intervene to protect Virginia’s military and overseas voters and dispute the position being taken by the Virginia Board of Elections. And Gov. Tim Kaine should repudiate the claims being made by the individuals he has appointed to this board.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Disenfranchising Our Military: Shameful Behavior of Virginia Board of Elections

    1. Dennis Aderholt Soci says:


    2. Pingback: US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Disenfranchising our Military – the Shameful Behavior of the …

    3. Barb -mn says:

      What is going on in this country? Everybody that gives sound reasonable advice is dismissed from the ears of the government and yet they disrespect the military in this way is more then shameful. It disgusts me to see the destruction of this country.

      Destruction due to government officials who are mentally challenged. Government does not deserve the pay they get! They are an international embarrassment. No DISCIPLINE! The hypocrites they are, are surely saving discipline for those who are already disciplined. Otherwise none as indoctrinate.

    4. Pingback: Virginia Board of Elections working hard to make sure military members overseas don’t get to vote « HoodaThunk?

    5. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      It seems that at every election cycle, the various election officials of the States commit fraud by deliberately not counting the military absentee ballots or not sending them out on time as required. We have been pussyfooting around this issue far too long. We need to get those election officials and if DOJ won't prosecute them, people have to mete out justice. It is the only way it seems that the civil rights fraud against our military personnel will stop.

    6. Pingback: Disenfranchising Our Military: Shameful Behavior of Virginia Board of Elections « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    7. Pingback: US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Disenfranchising Our Military: Shameful Behavior of Virginia Board …

    8. Travis in VA says:

      Let me tell you a little story about this matter. I am a LT in the US Navy, displaced in Virginia. I applied for an absentee ballot in early September, and received a notice in mid-October that I was not registered to vote in my home state of Texas; this confused me, as I had voted in both the 2000 and 2004 preisdential elections. I had received no notice that I was to be booted from the registry, because our local County Clerk's office had the incorrect address as my Texas residence (for you Texans, this was due to the "911 Address Changes" 12 years ago). I was informed that I was registered by the Conty Clerk's office, as my name was on the books in my hometown, but that's not the one that counts; I had to be registered in Austin.

      I hurriedly tried to register the week before the election, and was turned away by my local office, due to the administrative error. Disappointed, I began to open a case with the Texas Secretary of State's office on November 3rd to ensure this didn't happen again. Due to the diligence of the Attorney's office, I was in fact registered to vote in Texas on the afternoon of the 3rd.

      So what would you do if you were me? I went home from work that day, got online and booked a last minute, roundtrip airline ticket (four flights in all) for the next day. On Election Day, I flew home, voted, and flew back, and worked the next day. In this historic election, I was afforded the chance/privilege to vote, and I took it. It was an exhilirating experience, although I knew my vote was inconsequential in Texas, and wouldn't effect the outcome of the general election either.

      If I didn't vote, though, I wouldn't have any room to complain, now, would I?

      My brother (also military) faced similar delays in getting his absentee ballot; he received his in the mail on October 31 and had to overnight it back that same day. If we had this much trouble in the US, I can't imagine the plight faced by those deployed overseas.

      Only 30 percent of military absentee ballots in the 2006 presidential election were counted. This problem is widespread, and it requires reform. In this digital age, we have methods to count military member's signatures while avoiding voter fraud with receipts, digital signatures and the like.

      Any Congressman willing to take up the matter should be supported by the Heritage Foundation and others.

    9. Mithras says:

      Given von Spakovsky's record, I wouldn't take his word that the facts are as he states. I would want to read the briefs filed by the parties before deciding what the truth is. The typical right-wing move is to make this about military voters, when the law applies to civilians overseas. It makes a much better emotional appeal to say, "The liberals hate our troops!" Does that stuff still get traction outside the base?

      By the way, edit needed:

      "it does not excuse a state from failing to mail a requested absentee ballot in time for it to be received by the voter"

    10. David, birmingham al says:

      Mithras, what would you call it when 2 months before the election 65% of the Military said they would NOT vote for Obama and it was not only Virgina who did not send out ballots in time. The brilliant way that the Obama franchize duped America will go down in history as one of the best marketing campaigns of our time. He used his tried and true Sol Alynski tactics to shut down all rivals just as he did in Chicago. This from CNN if you in your liberalness can believe them (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/29/obamas.first.campaign/index.html)

      As a community organizer, he (Obama)had helped register thousands of voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers. The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district.

      "That was Chicago politics," said John Kass, a veteran Chicago Tribune columnist. "Knock out your opposition, challenge their petitions, destroy your enemy, right? It is how Barack Obama destroyed his enemies back in 1996 that conflicts with his message today. He may have gotten his start registering thousands of voters. But in that first race, he made sure voters had just one choice."

      This my freind is the future of our Government. There are so many questions left unanswered it is scarry. how did he get the money? why won't he give ANY opf his records out? Why is it he won't show the database of "givers" under 200.00? Was he born here?

      ALL UNANSWERED. this scares the heck out of me as an american, a citizen, and a tax payer

    11. Pingback: Political Activity Law · Military Voting

    12. Pingback: The BRAD BLOG : 'Daily Voting News' For December 05, 2008

    13. quantumfoam/townvill says:

      It should be increasingly clear to even a casual observer of government actions that governing bodies locally and nationally are not acting in the best interest of we the people. Whether it be a local councilman acting in his own self interest or a congressman inserting pork in a piece of legislation, expecting some of the pork to end up on his plate. Government for the most part is out of control.If it were not for organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, we would be lost indeed. I know that with so many worthwhile organizations needing money to operate it is difficult for an individual to divide up that piece of income.Just remember that Heritage is fighting for our very freedom. Without freedom we have nothing.

    14. Harry Blomstrand, Ch says:

      We are literally on the verge of complete servitude to this government. Why do the American people sleep?

    15. Lizz E says:

      THIS is the exact reason that Count US In was formed… to address the travesty of our military disenfranchised voter problem that continues to exist. Since 2006 we've been working toward an easier, fluid and secure voting method for our servicepeople.

      Though the subject has been briefly addressed in recent news due to the number of states in conflict with federal law, most notably Fairfax, VA, they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. And, the media only gets interested right before the election when it is too late. NOW is the time for Americans to get involved in the efforts for change. There are people working to make these changes happen, but they need your recognition.

      While our servicemen and women are fighting in strange and dangerous lands to preserve our rights and acquire them for others, they are being denied their basic right to vote. This election was a sham for the military–just like in 2000 and 2004. The Dept. of Defense is supposed to be working to correct the problems with the absentee voting system, but like most other government programs, any action is stuck in bureaucracy and political issues. Several Senators have submitted bills to address this serious situation, but they were left to wither on the vine without action–thanks to our other elected representatives.

      Now law suits are being filed and heard, thanks to efforts of the National Defense Committee, another organization started by veterans to fight for the military vote–but they have money from the PEW Foundation to help them and Count US In is still trying to get the recognition it needs to get those funds and get the military vote out—the voices of the very men and women who are sacrificing their lives are not being heard.

      We can provide you with a great deal of information if you are interested–our website is loaded with news and pleas for all concerned to become active in the cause. The situation is dire and recognition by Bill O'Reilly could certainly help our valiant cause. Please help us make the military voice heard! We'd still like to Count YOU In! Many thanks for your time and consideration!

    16. quantumfoam/townvill says:

      Comment to Liz E.//letter of 11-10-08:

      God Bless you Liz. It is people like you that see a problem and set about to correct the situation. The key word in your letter was money. There is nothing of note that is accomplished in Washington without money. I used to be so naive that I thought most legislation was passed based on its merit. I now have a different viewpoint. Most legislation is passed based on how much money is placed in key politicians pockets. That is why we see such stupid laws as hate crime bills. If we do not wake up we might see our representatives attacking religion and marriage. Imagine that! Wake Up America!

    17. LINACEMENODIA says:

      Nothing seems to be easier than seeing someone whom you can help but not helping.

      I suggest we start giving it a try. Give love to the ones that need it.

      God will appreciate it.

    18. lindasussed says:

      Hi all,

      I am new to this forum…

      Pls extend ur support to me.


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