Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

When will we have a Voting Rights Act for the military?

Posted by sanityinjection on January 7, 2009

In 1965, Congress passed the landmark Voting Rights Act, which ended various measures used in the South to prevent African-Americans from voting. The legislation is widely viewed as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the civil rights movement.

And yet today there is a group of people who are still systematically discriminated against and repeatedly prevented from voting in election after election. That group consists of the men and women of our armed forces serving overseas.

I first wrote about this back in July in response to a column by Bob Novak. Novak explained that there was a bipartisan effort in the House to remedy the persisting logistical problems that prevent many military members from casting their votes.

That effort seems to have failed to bear fruit, but a new study by the Pew Center details how bad the problem has become. According to the study, in 2006 only one-third of military ballots requested were actually cast and counted. Even worse, they found that “the voting rules in 25 states and the District of Columbia made it nearly impossible for service members stationed abroad to cast ballots in the 2008 election.”

This is the 21st century – surely modern technology should be able to solve this problem. And indeed, the Pew Center concludes its report with four simple recommendations that it feels would be effective in doing so. But what is appalling is that if these numbers applied to any other group in America – Hispanics, say, or African-Americans – there would be massive pressure in the media and from activist groups to end what they would call an outrage. Sadly, however, our military members enjoy no such concern for their civil rights.

This is especially appalling because it is precisely those who are risking their lives in defense of America who most deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box. Author Robert Heinlein once controversially wrote about a future society in which military veterans were the only citizens allowed to vote, and people joined the military precisely in order to earn that privilege.

You can go here to find out whether your state is doing enough to allow military members to cast their votes. If not, consider e-mailing your state’s Secretary of State and legislative leaders with a link to the Pew Center’s report. Change has to come from somewhere.


One Response to “When will we have a Voting Rights Act for the military?”

  1. jonolan said

    Don’t expect any substantive work on this issue as long as there is a Democrat majority in both Houses of Congress and a liberal Democrat sitting in the oval office. Democrats have no desire to see the votes of US soldiers, Marines, and sailors fairly counted.

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