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VA Dashes GOTV, Nixing Registration Drives. Right Idea?

One might assume those who'd fought for their country would be an important and respected voting population. One might also assume that the Department of Veterans Affairs would be in favor making that happen, much easier. One would be el wrongo.

Voting rights groups are ganging up on the Department of Veterans Affairs for its decision to ban voting registration drives among the veterans living at federally run nursing homes, shelters for the homeless and rehabilitation centers across the country.

Though the voting drives make it easier for veterans to have a say in the process, the VA is pulling the plug, citing the Hatch Act — which bans federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. It's the "federally run" part of the facilities causing the VA to be ballot-shy. A spokesman for the VA says they, “wanted to ensure that our staff remains focused on caring for our veterans instead of having to determine the political agenda of each group that might try to enter our facilities.”

The president of the League of Women Voters counters, “it just seems wrong to the league that the VA is erecting barriers to voter registration for our nation’s veterans. They appear to be using technicalities to block many veterans from registering to vote.”

Both Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the ban. More than 100,000 people live for at least a month in one of these facilities every year. That's a lot of potential votes from a population who should be heard. Is the VA right? Would voting drives disrupt care and create a partisan atmosphere?


stephley stephley 9 years
My first inclination was to say obey the Hatch Act, it's pretty important, but when I read the article it became clear that it is being used cuz someone got their panties in a knot: "For years, the department allowed the managers of its sites to decide individually whether to permit such drives. In 2004, Steve Preminger, a Democratic county chairman, filed a lawsuit after he was refused permission to register voters at a V.A. campus in Menlo Park, Calif., about 25 miles south of San Francisco. A lower court ruled against Mr. Preminger in January, finding that he had failed to prove that any veteran was actually prevented from voting... In February, a federal appellate court in Washington ruled in a related case that the department could prohibit only those political demonstrations that were disruptive and threatening decency or decorum. In May, the department took the broader step of issuing a ban on all outside groups from registration drives on its properties."
liliblu liliblu 9 years
Ultimately, the ban is on "partisan" political activity, and basic voter registration is not soley a partisan activity. Exactly Jill. I have family members who are Federal Employees. They are not allowed to put up or pass out Obama or McCain material in their cubicles or offices. I remeber voter registration drives in highschool and college that never mentioned a paticular candidates name.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
It is very possible to register voters with out having a single candidates name mentioned or printed on paperwork. Would simply dropping off and picking up voter registration paperwork be considered a "drive"? I do think we can't forget that many times the elderly need help filling out these forms. Ultimately, the ban is on "partisan" political activity, and basic voter registration is not soley a partisan activity.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
No one is stopping these Vets from voting, and Having granparents in these facilities I KNOW that they dont want to be hounded by some group peddling for a candidate.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
This is ridiculous.
gooniette gooniette 9 years
I'm not saying that Vets shouldn't get help registering to vote. I just think they need to pick another venue for the registration.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
From the article: "Just because veterans live on these campuses does not mean they should be deprived of the rights of free association and free speech..." Sorry, but I call BS on that. No one is banning them from voting.
gooniette gooniette 9 years
Do you really think politicians are going to help injured vets feel better? Seriously though, VA hospitals are in enough trouble as it is with staffing problems and not having enough room to care for everyone coming in. Having to worry about which political organization to let in or not would just pile on the problems.
Taadie Taadie 9 years
It sounds like they are trying to take the easy way out and instead of doing a little research into the groups and letting them in, just banning them all. Get an intern to do it and stop making excuses. There has to be a bipartisan group who would love to register people.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Oh I see so they can't do it on Federal property. Well hell get a permit and stand on the city sidewalk. Well like I said the best rememdy would be to amend the act.
em1282 em1282 9 years
Yup, cabaker, that's what I thought...
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Hypno, I got from the linked article that they are not allowing outside groups to come in and register voters. They are volunteers. The problem is that the VA is interpreting the law by saying the veterans are federal employees.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
There really isn't even ONE bipartisan organization that registers voters without any adgenda??
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well they certainly can't violate the law. Amend the Act or I'm sure that out of this 100,000 disgruntled people they can manage to find some volunteers for each facility to do the work.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I picked the first one but agree with the second one as well. I see why they would want to take care to be sure that those registering voters are not advocating for specific candidates and issues, but beyond that, I think it is ridiculous that they would even consider banning voter registration drives.
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