Another Perspective

ACORN, Yes, Marines, No

Why is no one making sure sure our service men and women overseas are insured the right to vote?

By 11.3.08

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ACORN, the organization whose foot soldiers faked voter registration applications in Missouri in 2004 and Seattle in 2006, has been in full battle mode this fall, signing up thousands of previously unregistered voters. Included were Mickey Mouse and, in Nevada, the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys. In Cleveland one young man was approached by ACORN registrars 73 times and signed up each time for a simple reward of a cigarette or a dollar bill.

The Secretary of State of Ohio, a Democrat, refused to send suspect registration applications to county elections offices for verification. She was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on a technicality. Meanwhile, ACORN, as it did in previous years, insisted that all its registrars were properly trained, did not have quotas to fill in order to be paid (though they were paid per capita for completed applications), that complaints were "politically motivated" and that if a few applications were incorrect they were innocent errors. In other words, they played the role of the legendary fox in the hen house who said, "Nobody here but us chickens."

As all this has played out there has been a background chorus of Democrat, liberal and left-wing operatives insisting that no one eligible to vote must be denied the right to do so. Their leitmotif has been that sinister Republicans would, if possible, "suppress" votes in lower-income areas. Never mind that this is a chimera; they have repeated it often enough to get some to believe it.

This chorus, including as it does, many who are anti-military, has been silent on the matter of making sure our service men and women overseas are insured the right to vote. An untold number of these young people are, in fact, in danger of being denied that right, especially if they are in Iraq or Afghanistan.

This came home to my family this week. We learned from our grandson, a Lance Corporal in a Marine Combat Engineer unit in Iraq, that his absentee ballot, requested well over a month ago, was received by him on Thursday. His parents traced the matter with the local post office and found it had left there on September 29. It took a full month to reach him. By mailing it back this last Friday he has a very slim chance it will reach the elections office in Arlington, Virginia, in time to be counted. His parents were told by that office that if it did not reach them by 5 p.m.. on election day it would not be counted. Thus, the election office is holding our service men and women overseas responsible for the behavior of the U.S. Postal Service.

There are two things wrong with this picture. This year there is a system for armed services personnel overseas to register online and, in a few states, to vote online. This was not universally publicized to all units and should have been -- early. Also, the Department of Defense should have made an all-out effort with all 50 states to get them to accept online voting (with proper security). To the extent such an effort did not succeed, the DoD should have secured (by Act of Congress if necessary) to have overseas military ballots counted, provided they were postmarked, say, as late as five or seven days before the election day.

Should those working to finish the job of bringing peace and stability to Iraq be responsible for the efficiency of "snail mail"? No. Should ACORN be held responsible for all the fake registrations its workers have perpetrated on the election system? Yes.

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About the Author
Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number of years. He is a member of the board of the Committee on the Present Danger. His latest book is “Presidential Retreats.”