Friday, April 11, 2008

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION WON'T HELP REGISTER VETS TO VOTE

RAW STORY Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake told two Democratic senators his department will not help injured veterans register to vote before the 2008 election. "VA remains opposed to becoming a voter registration agency pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act, as this designation would divert substantial resources from our primary mission," Peake said in an April 8th letter to Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) acquired by Steven Rosenfeld at Alternet.

Peake refers to a 1993 law that allows government departments to engage in voter registration efforts, Rosenfeld says. What this means is that many injured veterans still in VA hospitals who can't find means to register outside of their facilities will effectively lose their right to vote. Wounded veterans who have moved must re-register at their "new addresses" or file for absentee ballots in order to participate in the presidential and other elections.

Peake defends the decision by saying that a court recently ruled the VA's limits on "partisan political activities" "does not on its face violate [veterans'] First Amendment' rights," Rosenfeld notes, without articulating how registering veterans is a partisan activity.

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