A key Senate Republican on Tuesday pressed the Justice Department to step up its enforcement of a 2009 law that requires states to provide absentee ballots to military service members and their families 45 days before elections.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Sen. John Cornyn said the department has provided “grossly inadequate enforcement” of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowering (MOVE) Act, citing what he called “the national disgrace” of disenfranchised military voters.
“In light of the Justice Department’s poor track record, I call on you to formulate and provide a comprehensive plan” for enforcing laws protecting the military’s right to vote “during the upcoming election cycle,” the Texas Republican said in the letter. Mr. Cornyn co-sponsored the MOVE Act.
In the 2010 election, at least 14 jurisdictions failed to send out absentee ballots before the law’s 45-day time limit, and only five states were granted waivers of exemption.
Pentagon statistics show that the rate of voter registration among service members is much higher than that of civilians, but the rate of successful ballot return is much lower.
Mr. Cornyn said the Justice Department’s poor enforcement of MOVE is partially to blame.
“Our military service members put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, yet many of them face substantial roadblocks as they attempt to cast their ballots and participate in our national election,” he said at a Heritage Foundation conference on military voting rights on Tuesday.