Obama admin pushes back hard on right's charge that it's not protecting military voters
Have you heard the right wing's latest attack on the Obama Justice Department? It goes like this: The department is "ignoring" a new law designed to protect the voting rights of overseas members of the military.
But I've gotten a hold of a letter the Justice Department has now sent to a Republican Senator pushing this claim -- and the letter effectively demolishes the right's attack.
This latest attack, which was first reported "exclusively" by Fox News, is based largely on claims made by former DOJ lawyer J. Christian Adams, who is also behind the claim that the department improperly narrowed the case against the New Black Panthers because it wanted to protect minorities. Anyone notice a pattern here?
Fox reported that DOJ is encouraging states to use waivers to bypass the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which requires states to send absentee ballots to military personnel overseas at least 45 days before elections. Fox warned this could mean that "thousands of soldiers' ballots will arrive too late to be counted."
Now DOJ has responded to Cornyn with a letter of its own. And it lays out the reasons why this latest attack is bogus:
* The DOJ letter points out that the waiver process is built into the MOVE law. It notes that states have the right to request a waiver if they are unable for whatever reason to meet the requirement, and that it's the responsibility of the Department of Defense, in consultation with DOJ, to determine whether to grant those waivers.
* DOJ's letter points out that a central piece of evidence supporting this latest attack -- that a DOJ official supposedly suggested the MOVE law is ambiguous -- was ripped out of context and that DOJ has actively taken steps to inforce the law as is. It notes that DOJ has formed a "team of attorneys to monitor state compliance with the Act's requirements" and is "fully prepared to file suit against states that do not come into compliance."
"The Department of Justice is firmly committed to ensuring that our men and women serving in the uniformed services and living overseas have the opportunity to vote and to have their votes counted," the DOJ letter says. "Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue."
The thing about this latest attack is that it's part of a pattern. The idea is to suggest not mere negligence on the part of DOJ, but rather that the Obama administration is actively using the machinery of justice to deprive select groups -- white voters, members of the military -- of their rights as Americans. The Justice Department appears to be redoubling its efforts to shoot down these attacks, though it's unclear if the facts will do anything to stop them from continuing.
UPDATE, 12:00 a.m.: This post wrongly asserted that the letter said no states had requested waivers yet. In fact, DOJ has made no decisions on wavers. I've edited the above to reflect this.
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