If election officials started disenfranchising minority voters at a rate of 80%, headlines would scream on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, as would civil rights leaders. And rightly so.
However, when those being disenfranchised are military voters, the media and the traditional civil-rights establishment give a collective shrug. I posted a story on April 2 about the shameful behavior of the New York Election Board and the inadequate actions of the Department of Justice in protecting military voters in New York’s 20th district congressional race.
Yesterday was the deadline for the receipt of completed absentee ballots from military voters — ballots that had been mailed out too late by local election officials. The Election Board has posted a chart showing that 998 absentee ballots were sent to military voters, yet only 205 were returned in time to be counted.
There is no doubt many more would have been returned if New York had been forced to take other steps to remedy their late mailing of absentee ballots. For example, the state could have been required to pay for international express service for the return of voted ballots. That didn’t happen. The resulting low voting rate among service members can be partly attributed to the failure of state and federal officials to carry out their responsibilities to comply with and enforce the federal statute that guarantees the rights of all military personnel to vote.