Aren’t Our Servicemen Entitled to a Vote?
This morning I received the email below from the Maryland GOP Senate Slate. Let me say that I am appalled that the military vote is being stifled. The Board of Elections has known about this law for sometime yet has decided to wait until the literal last moment to deal with it. And the only solution they’ve come up with is a “waiver.” Is this government that inept that they can’t figure out a way to ensure that every vote is in fact counted? Don’t answer that. I already know the answer.
You can read the details below, but my hope is that this enrages you as much as it enrages me. How can they sit back and claim a fair election when they’ve yet to do everything in their power to make sure everyone gets a vote? They jump through hoops to make sure that everyone who wants to vote can vote, right? Early voting, absentee ballots, provisional ballots. Heck, anyone can walk into a polling place, not have to show ID, and vote. Even if they’re not registered or if the polling book says they’ve already voted, we are still required to give them a provisional ballot. I was an election judge for the last three election cycles, and to their credit, I can say that from a polling place standpoint, with few exceptions, it seems that the elections are administered with fairness and integrity. However, absentee and provisional ballots are always been a bit of a misnomer to me. Just how do they decide which votes are counted and which ones aren’t?
I guess I’ve always taken for granted the idea that our servicemen get a vote, although it’s kind of hard to vote if you don’t have a ballot. So I have a few questions for the Board of Elections:
1. If Obama signed the MOVE act into effect in October 2009, why haven’t you been able to figure out a way to send ballots to every Maryland serviceman stationed overseas?
2. Why did you wait until the absolute last minute to determine the impossibility of such a measure?
3. Why are you asking for a waiver when you’re already passed the deadline? Why didn’t you go before the legislature earlier, like in November 2009?
4. What exactly are your reasons for not being able to follow through with the MOVE act?
If someone can answer these questions for me in a reasonable manner, I might have to rethink my position on this matter. For now, though, my confidence in the system is wavering.
Maryland Fails to Provide Timely Ballots to our Troops
The Senate Republican Caucus has joined with the House Republican Caucus in opposition to the waiver requested by the Maryland State Board of Elections so that ballots do not have to be sent to military and civilian personnel serving overseas in compliance with federal election laws. The full statement follows:
(Annapolis, MD) Today, The Joint Republican Caucus of the Maryland General Assembly released the following statement in response to the Maryland Board of Elections’ request for a waiver of the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
“This federal law exists to ensure that those who are fighting to defend our democracy, have the opportunity to participate in it” said House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell. “This waiver request is just one more slap in the face to the Maryland men and women who are serving our country, and a reminder that the O’Malley administration and Democrat leaders in the legislature consistently disregard the importance of, and sacrifices made, by those honorable citizens.”
“I am dismayed that the Maryland government can’t provide better support for our troops. We teach our children the importance of democracy and participating in elections. However, through their inaction, the liberal Democrat monopoly in Annapolis has ignored the very people who risk their lives so that we can continue to have these freedoms.” said Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman.
The MOVE Act was signed into law by President Obama last October, and requires that states ensure that ballots are sent to military voters serving overseas at least 45 days before the election, due to the unavoidable delays associated with delivery into sometimes dangerous areas.
“If compliance is impossible, according to the Board of Elections, why wasn’t the legislature approached about a solution” continued Delegate O’Donnell. “Why wasn’t this brought up as an issue until now? Our Maryland citizens serving overseas deserve more consideration than appears to have been given to this issue. The Democratic leaders previously gutted legislation intended to give a well-deserved benefit to military retirees, and attract and retain these highly skilled personnel who are essential to economic growth and prosperity. They then enacted legislation hindering the ability of our armed services to recruit a new generation of well-trained, admirable citizens giving back to their communities through military service. It is disgraceful, but not surprising that this waiver request is but one more example of a lack of consideration and respect for active duty military and veterans by the O’Malley administration and Democrat leaders in the legislature in Maryland.”
In 2005, the Ehrlich administration introduced legislation that would exempt 100% of military retirement income from state income taxes if the retiree had served 20 years of active duty. The legislation was first amended in committee to cut the exemption in half and eliminate the exemption for retired officers, and was then killed. Retired military personnel households spent over $2.5 billion on goods and services in Maryland when this legislation was introduced, and are an integral part of Maryland’s economy as they transition their extensive training and skill sets into the private sector.
“Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership has not learned what our neighboring states have known for quite some time, exempting 100% of military retirement income from state income taxes is a tremendous economic stimulus tool. Therefore, in addition to being the right thing to do for those who have sacrificed for all of us, giving a greater tax break to veterans would help to energize our economy and create new jobs in Maryland” continued Senator Kittleman.
In the 2010 legislative session, legislation was introduced by the chairman of the Ways and Means committee that prohibits schools from releasing information regarding student scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to military recruiters. This test is developed and maintained by the Department of Defense to measure vocational aptitude of potential enlistees.
“These three issues show a continuing pattern in Maryland where the liberal Democrat leadership displays anti-military philosophy in state policy” concluded Senator Kittleman.