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Katrina vanden Heuvel: US Vets Fight for the Vote (still)

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-18-08 09:20 PM
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Katrina vanden Heuvel: US Vets Fight for the Vote (still)
US Vets Fight for the Vote
posted by Katrina vanden Heuvel on 09/18/2008 @ 2:58pm

When a prospective enlistee shows up at a US Armed Forces Recruitment Center, the recruiter asks whether the individual would like to register to vote. But for the veteran returning home even one now residing at a VA facility so that their previous voter registration is no longer valid the Department of Veterans Affairs is under no such obligation.

Many voting rights groups and advocates for veterans are trying to rectify this injustice by providing voter registration drives at VA facilities. Initially, the VA stood in the way banning nonpartisan groups, election officials, and registration drives at its facilities. In July, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz was literally turned away at the door of a VA facility where she wanted to show veterans how to use new voting equipment.

In response, Senators Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry introduced the Veteran Voting Support Act (S. 3308) that would require the VA to allow nonpartisan voter registration drives and comply with any state's request that the VA itself offer voter registration at its facilities under the National Voter Registration Act(NVRA). Barack Obama is a cosponsor of the bill, John McCain isn't. It seems Senator McCainnot Support This is once again out of touch even with the veterans to whom he claims devotion. The legislation is supported by groups across the nation, including: Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Association of Retired Persons, Veterans for Common Sense, American Association of Persons with Disabilities, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Demos, League of Women Voters, and others. Companion legislation has already passed the House Administration Committee, where members recognized that the least Congress can do for the men and women who put their lives on the line for this nation is go an extra mile to support their right to vote a basic tenet of our democracy.

On September 8, just days before a Senate hearing on the bill, the VA apparently reversed itself, issuing a directive to lift the ban on election officials and non-partisan groups assisting with voter registration. The reversal was good news, but it was also the third time in five months that the VA had revised its policy, and so when the rescheduled hearing rolled around on Monday, Senator Feinstein Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration was understandably skeptical of the VA's commitment to implementing a new approach.

"Candidly," Senator Feinstein told Paul Hutter, General Counsel of the VA, "the credibility of the VA is very low on this issue right now."

And it should be.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-19-08 11:53 PM
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-20-08 11:58 AM
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