Feds Make It Hard For Veterans To Register To Vote
In a strongly worded editorial from the August 10, 2008, New York Times, Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut's Secretary of State, criticized Secretary for Veteran's Affairs James B. Peake for issuing a directive "that bans nonpartisan voter registration drives at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans. As a result, too many of our most patriotic American citizens -- our injured and ill military veterans -- may not be able to vote this November."
On April 25, 2008, Peake issued a directive [PDF] allowing voter registration in VA facilities. However, just a few days later, on May 5, the VA reversed itself and issued a new directive [PDF] which claimed that allowing nonpartisan voter registration in VA facilities would cause "disruptions to facility operations." The May 5 directive also made the erroneous claim that allowing voter registration in VA facilities would be a violation of the Hatch Act, which forbids federal workers from engaging in partisan political activities.
But as Sec. of State Bysiewicz stated in her editorial, "this interpretation of the Hatch Act is erroneous. Registering people to vote is not partisan activity."
As for disruptions to facility operations, she writes, "This is nonsense. Veterans can fill out a voter registration card in about 90 seconds." And of course, voter registration does not require any activity on the part of VA facility staff. Voter registration groups take care of everything, leaving VA staff to do their jobs of caring for patients.
There is currently legislation pending in both houses of Congress that would repeal the ban on nonpartisan voter registration in VA facilities.
But the fact that the VA has banned voter registration drives in VA facilities is something that we find very suspicious.
Mr. Peake, a federal employee, may himself be violating the Hatch Act by engaging in partisan political activity.
It seems that Sen. John McCain, the Republican's presumptive nominee for President, is not doing well with veterans, and we suspect Mr. Peake is trying to give Sen. McCain a boost this November by blocking veterans from registering.
But wait. The conventional wisdom is that Sen. McCain -- a Republican, a veteran, and a POW -- is popular with vets, while Sen. Obama -- a Democrat and not a veteran -- is not.
But as so often happens, the conventional wisdom is wrong. McCain is in fact struggling to gain support from America's veterans.
From Time Magazine: McCain has "voted for veterans funding bills only 30% of the time, according to a scorecard of roll-call votes put out by the nonpartisan Disabled Americans for America. Under the same system Obama has a 90% rating."
In 2006, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of "D" for his record of voting on veterans' issues, while they gave Obama a "B+".
The Disabled American Veterans gave McCain a 20% positive rating, while Sen. Obama was scored by the DVA at 80%.
So is it in any way possible that the May 5 directive from Veterans Affairs making it harder for veterans to register to vote was influenced by veteran's growing support for Obama and their falling support for McCain?
We believe that readers of this blog are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions.