MacIver News Service | October 1, 2012
[Madison, Wisc...] At least 30 Wisconsin municipalities failed to send absentee ballots to military voters before the 45 day deadline, according to former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, and he's demanding the Government Accountability Board address the problem immediately.
As reported by the website WisPolitics.com, Principi sent a letter to the GAB on Monday pointing out the failure to meet the 45 day deadline is in violation of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act.
"This violation is particularly unsettling in light of the fact that, only six months ago, a federal court entered a consent decree against Wisconsin and the Government Accountability Board for similar violations of military voting rights," wrote Principi.
Principi cited a study by the Military Postal Service Agency, which found less than 45 days is not enough time to ensure service members can receive, complete and return in time.
"Your office's violations therefore may deprive service members of their fundamental right to vote," he wrote.
This comes on top of a report by the MacIver News Service that the Federal Voter Assistance Program was providing Wisconsin service members the incorrect deadline for when their ballots must be received by for the general election.
The Department of Defense is scrambling to undo any damage caused when the Federal Voting Assistance Program provided the wrong absentee ballot deadline to Wisconsin service members. Also in Washington, DC, House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren, (R-Calif.) took action to ensure that the voting rights of military and overseas voters are protected, including sending a staff attorney to meet with state election officials here.
"It's alarming to know that an untold number of our men and women in uniform were provided incorrect information," said Lungren. "This is an unacceptable error that cannot continue. Whether it's from the battle field or at the ballot box, our men and women in uniform deserve to have their vote counted."
Principi also sent his letter to Nelson Hermilla, U.S Department of Justice Chief Civil Rights Division, and J.B. Van Hollen, Wisconsin Attorney General.
Principi was U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs under President George W. Bush from 2001-2005. He now serves as National Chair, Veterans and Military Families for Romney Coalition.
MNS will have more on this story on Tuesday.