Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Ghosts of Florida

Back in 2000, Democrat Presidential candidate Al Gore and his minions ignited a firestorm when they tried block absentee ballots from military voters in Florida.

Suggesting (perhaps) that some parties never learn, the Democrats are at it again, this time in Ohio. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have filed a lawsuit, challenging a new law that gives military personnel three more days for early voting. More from Fox News:

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have filed a lawsuit to block a new state law allowing men and women in uniform to vote up until the Monday right before an election, while the cutoff on early voting for the rest of the public is three days earlier.

Top Obama campaign officials told Fox News in interviews that the lawsuit in no way tries to restrict the voting rights of military members. All they are trying to do is even the playing field for all voters in Ohio by allowing early voting up until Monday for everyone, including members of the military, because they believe a two-tiered, early-voting process is unfair.

"Along with the DNC and Ohio Democratic Party, this campaign filed a lawsuit to reinstate equal, early-voting rights for all Ohioans -- rights the Republican-controlled legislature arbitrarily stripped away this past year," Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, told supporters in an email.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine isn't buying that argument. The same holds true for 15 veterans and military organizations who backed the change. As we've note in this blog--on multiple occasions--members of the armed forces serving overseas are the most disenfranchised segment of the American electorate. By some estimates, at least one-third of military absentee ballots are never counted, often because they arrived at the submission deadline. The Ohio measure is aimed (in part) at making more military votes count.

Surely, Team Obama could get behind that idea. But then again, never underestimate the politics that invariably color such decisions. Mr. Obama's managers are acutely aware that most military absentee voters support the GOP. In a battleground state like Ohio, where every vote takes on added importance, thousands of absentee ballots from armed forces personnel (with 60% supporting Mitt Romney) could determine which candidate carries the state. All the more reason to deny military voters those extra days, in the name of "fairness."

And while we're on that subject, you can rest assured that GOP officials in Ohio know that members of the armed services are a reliable Republican constituency. So, why not allow a few extra days, particularly if it means more votes in the "R" column.

From our perspective, the Ohio accomodation is reasonable, given long-standing problems with military absentee ballots. And quite frankly, we wouldn't have a problem with extending the deadline for all absentee voters living overseas.

But quite frankly, there's a better solution. Why not create a system that allows all military members to vote on-line? Arizona instituted that type of system several years ago, with great success. The on-line option would eliminate the need for special deadlines and other measures aimed at military voters.

To date, Mr. Obama's Defense Department has done absolutely nothing to implement on-line voting for military personnel (we should also note that President George W. Bush was equally negligent in that department). The problem is evident, and the technology is available to fix it, but no one at the White House or the Pentagon is willing to tackle the problem.

In fact, Democrats have always been willing to go the extra mile in creating barriers to military voting. Members of Mr. Obama's party in Congress have refused to support simple provisions that would require military ballots be returned to the states by the fastest means available, meaning that move would arrive in time to be counted. At the local level, Democratic county clerks have been among the worst offenders in mailing out absentee ballots weeks late, ensuring they won't be returned before the submission deadline.

Ensuring the franchise for military personnel should be a bi-partisan issue, but regrettably, it's not. That's why the next administration should make it a priority to implement on-line voting for armed forces members (and other Americans) living overseas. Those brave young men and women who wear the uniform--to defend our basic liberties--deserve much better than lawsuits and election-year maneuvering.


Vigilis said...

Federal tolerance of military absentee ballot disenfranchisement under the current administration was speculated 2 years ago:

How did we know? Because The authority responsible for protecting military voters, the Voting Section, decided not to pursue [those] states even though federal law (i.e., the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) gives the Voting section wide latitude to protect military voters.

AG Holder may term the recurrence of overseas military disenfranchisement simply another instance of prosecutorial discretion. Merlin could not have stifled Justice more than our AG.

Polaris said...

Sigh. Does anyone check this stuff out before ranting about the disenfranchisement of the military ?. Lets change the channel away from constant Fox News kool aid. Just once in a while. Military voting is not the target here. The Obama administration is trying to get the same voting rules that the military enjoy - applied to everyone.