September 16, 2008 – This week’s update is about every American citizen’s Constitutional right to vote – including our veterans.
Our veterans stood between enemy bullets and our Constitution. Yet until last week, VA stood between our veterans and their right to vote. What VA did was wrong, and we need a new law to make sure this never happens again.
On September 15, 2008, Veterans for Common Sense was asked to testify before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee about the need for voter registration drives at VA facilities.
Here’s the problem. When a veteran moves from their house into a VA facility, their old registration becomes invalid and the veteran must re-register to vote. VA has known about this problem for years. Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote VA about it in March 2007 and March 2008. In 2007, VA ignored her letter. In 2008, VA responded with a ban on voter registration drives.
On May 5, 2008, VA issued a ban against all voter registration drives at VA hospitals and nursing homes. VA said they would handle all new registrations. VA said they would provide voting assistance to the veterans living in VA facilities.
On September 8, 2008, VA reversed their policy after an outcry from Congress and veterans. While we are pleased that VA lifted their ban, VA’s voter registration results are very low.
VA testified yesterday that 56,000 veterans live in VA facilities. Remember, all of the veterans living in VA facilities must re-register before they can vote. Out of 45,000 veteran s given voting information, only 350 veterans registered to vote.
That’s only six new voters out of every 1,000 patients. That’s unacceptable.
At yesterday’s hearing we urged Congress to immediately pass S 3308, “The Veteran Voting Support Act,” introduced by Senator Feinstein.
As reported in Air Force Times, VCS believes there must be a law to protect veterans’ voting rights. If VA won’t do it on their own, then Congress must intervene and order VA to do it. We testified that “VA can easily reverse course, again, and issue another policy banning voting assistance….” Furthermore, we said that VA could “easily fail to implement their new policy.”
There are seven weeks until the November 4, 2008, election. We ask you to register and vote. We also ask you to contact Congress in support of S 3308, “The Veteran Voting Support Act.” We want VA to follow through on their pledge to assist veterans.
VCS now has more than 13,000 members. Your membership and your support of Veterans for Common Sense helped us bring our message to Congress: Let Our Veterans Vote !
The more people registering and voting, the stronger and more free our Nation will be.
Thank you, Paul Sullivan, Executive Director, Veterans for Common Sense