News flash: Senator Schumer is shocked, shocked, to discover that military voters had trouble voting in the 2008 election. The Senate Rules Committee, of which he is chairman, held a hearing today on this problem and released a study conducted by his committee and the Congressional Research Service. It found that one out of every four ballots requested by military personnel and other overseas voters in the 2008 election may have gone uncounted. This is due to the chronic problem of military voters being mailed ballots by election officials without enough time to complete and send them back by the election deadline. Schumer was quoted as saying that the study “is enough to show that the balloting process for service members is clearly in need of an overhaul.”
Schumer is correct, but the fact that military voters are being disenfranchised at an unacceptably high rate should not be news to anyone, especially a member of Congress. There has been study after study showing this for years; I wrote about it last May and cited a survey by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission showing that only one out of every three ballots requested by military and overseas voters in the 2004 election were successfully cast and counted because ballots were mailed too late and other problems.
Of course, what Schumer did not mention is that Rep. Kevin McCarthy introduced a bill prior to the 2008 election that could have gone a long way to solving this problem. It would have required the Pentagon to collect absentee ballots overseas and deliver them stateside by express air transport. This would have shortened the delivery time for overseas ballots from weeks to only four days. It would have meant that thousands of ballots that were rejected in 2004 would have counted in 2008.
So what happened to McCarthy’s bill? It was bottled up in a House committee by the majority party, of which Senator Schumer is a member, although it has just been reintroduced by Representative McCarthy and Senator Cornyn. Schumer’s side of the aisle always says it wants to make sure everyone gets to vote including members of the military, but every time a possible solution is proposed, it never goes anywhere. Perhaps because most politicos believe that the military tends to vote more for the right side of the political fence than the left. If Senator Schumer really wants to solve this problem, and disprove the suspicion some have that most congressional liberals want to suppress the military vote, he should work to make sure the McCarthy/Cornyn bill is enacted.