All Things Soldier: Disenfranchising Our Defenders By Denying Them The Right To Vote

In 2009, a bill was passed that was designed to streamline the voting process of our service men and women whether they were stationed in the States or overseas. The bill is known as MOVE, which stands for Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment Act, and it came about in part as a result of documented repression of the “GI Joe vote” in 2004, and more so in 2008.

When I was in Iraq during the 2004 presidential election, there were vague rumblings about ballots not getting delivered, early voting not processed even though it had been completed on time, and other voting roadblocks. In short, soldiers seemed to be getting flat shut out of the game. By 2008 the rumblings reached a roar, and it appears that something is still seriously wrong.

Soldiers typically have a strong showing when it comes to voting, provided they are given the chance to do so. Because they have sworn “to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic,” as a bloc they tend to be conservative. They understand better than most the price that must be paid in order for us to remain free, and part of that price is the cost of having a strong military.

In the past three years, though, they have been treated by this administration in a manner that at best could only be described as dismissive, and at worst, treacherous. Everything from standing in formation in the hot Afghani sun while their Commander decided to shoot some hoops rather than visit the troops, to having him state that they should pay for their own health care, to cutting their budget by a half a trillion dollars, is a slap in the face of the most remarkable people I have ever known.

One would think, therefore, that by now there would be a sizeable number of ballots that need to at least start to be counted, but that is not the case. In fact, voting on the part of soldiers, whether here or overseas is down by 77%! How can this be? It makes no sense statistically or otherwise, and has drawn the attention of several lawmakers, including Texas Senator John Cornyn.

Senator Cornyn fired off a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wherein he stated his displeasure with the Pentagon when it comes to actually following the provisions of MOVE. He says, in part, that it is “an unacceptable failure by Pentagon leaders to comply with the law and ensure our service members and their families are able to exercise one of the most fundamental rights for which they sacrifice every day.” The question on the minds of Senator Cornyn and several of his colleagues is, is there mischief afoot? Is the vote actually being suppressed, or is it just the gross incompetence that seems to accompany an ever burgeoning bureaucracy?

Either way, I am glad he is blowing the whistle, and pray that he gets a response. Sadly, though, I doubt that it will be in time for this election, and that is more than just tragic, in my view it is treasonous.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner