Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why is Joint Chiefs Chairman Discouraging Military Voters?

The following is a press release from Senator Cornyn's office.  He and 21 other Senators express concern that our military members will not be supported in exercising their right to vote in this election. The military, of all Americans, deserve to be able to exercise that right, don't you think?

Senators Voice Concerns With Joint Chiefs Chairman’s Comments Discouraging Military Voters

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX),along with 21 fellow Senators, today wrote to General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raising concerns with a series of recent comments made by Dempsey that appear to discourage service members from exercising their right to vote. Among other comments, Dempsey recently said, “We must understand why our military as a profession embraces political neutrality as a core value.” Dempsey’s comments come on the heels of a report by the Defense Department’s Inspector General indicating a failure by DoD to provide adequate voter assistance to military members and their families as mandated by the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, or MOVE Act.
“It is only because of the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform that every American has the right to vote in free elections. It is incumbent upon you and other military leaders to ensure that these service members are in no way discouraged from exercising these very same civil rights for which so many, including you, have fought for and sacrificed so much.
Senator Cornyn has been at the forefront of this issue, working to insure that all those serving will have the opportunity to vote.
From September 7, 2012:
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today wrote to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, voicing concerns with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) deficient implementation of on-base voter assistance for military service members and their families, mandated by the 2009 law, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, or MOVE Act. The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, John Barrasso, R-WY, Richard Burr, R-NC, Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, and James Inhofe, R-OK.
Under the MOVE Act, through specific provisions authored by Sen. Cornyn, DoD was required to ensure that troops and their families have unfettered access to voter assistance on military bases under a program modeled after the well-known “motor voter” programs for civilian voters. The law required DoD to install voter assistance offices at all bases by 2010. Released this week, a report by DoD’s Inspector General concluded that half of U.S. military bases lack the voter assistance facilities required by the MOVE Act.
“With great disappointment, we have concluded that the Department of Defense (DoD) stands in clear violation of a central provision of this federal law, which mandated the creation of on-base voter assistance offices. The price of DoD’s failure to follow the law will likely be paid this November by military service members and their families, whose voting rights were to have been safeguarded by this provision,” the Senators wrote.
“We request a timely response on what you intend to do to ensure that our military service members and their families receive the voter assistance they need in order to participate in the democratic process this November.”
The Senators outlined immediate action items that must be taken to ensure members of the military and their family have the opportunity to vote in November’s election, including:
  • Provide every military voter with a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and the necessary assistance to complete that form;
  • Keep track, consistent with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, of the number of FPCAs that were processed and sent to local election jurisdictions; and
  • Undertake significant efforts at all levels to promote and encourage military voter participation in the November election.

Let's hope that the military voters may all vote in November without undue difficulties. Let's hope they are not being pressured into apathy in the guise of political neutrality in the hopes of boosting the re-election of Barack Obama, their Commander-in-Chief.