Veterans Day is a painful reminder of inequality for veterans in America’s territories who are disenfranchised because of where they live. In 2013, Luis Segovia was deployed to Afghanistan, a world away from his family in Guam. For him it was a bit of deja-vu; four years earlier he was serving his first tour in Afghanistan. A lot had changed in his life since. He had moved from Chicago to Guam, married the woman of his dreams, and started a family. One thing he hadn’t expected was that a change in zipcode would mean he longer would be able to vote for president. Being denied basic democratic participation is something he could never have imagined in 2005, when he was deployed for 18 months in Iraq. Serving at Forward Operation Base Marez near Mosul, one of his primary missions was providing security for the 2005 Iraqi election. He felt a sense of accomplishment, he could feel history being made.
A decade later, Luis is still proud to be defending America’s democratic and constitutional values as a Staff Sergeant in the Guam National Guard and as a civilian police officer at Anderson Air Force Base. But on Veterans Day, it just doesn’t feel right that he’s now on the sidelines of democracy, a spectator rather than a participant despite his three tours of service.
What’s perhaps most perplexing to Luis is that if he had moved to the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands, another U.S. territory, or even if he had moved permanently to a foreign country, his right to vote for President would have been protected under both federal and state overseas absentee voter laws. To Luis, these kinds of arbitrary lines seem completely unfair.
Yesterday, Luis filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Chicago to determine whether these arbitrary distinctions between similarly situated citizens are also unconstitutional.
Full Article: Veterans Day, Still No Right to Vote | Neil Weare.