The U.S. Military doesn't fight and die overseas to protect our freedoms so that unscrupulous people in power back home can deny them their own constitutional rights.
When the news first broke late last week that the grossly partisan Fairfax County registrar, Rokey Suleman (contact here), was not going to count absentee ballots by military personnel, we were livid. This same man registered Fairfax County Jail inmates to vote earlier this month. (Why not? Captive audience, right?) But he wanted to deny the votes of hundreds of Virginians who are abroad fighting for our (including his) security and freedom. The gall of this man!
Inmates at the Fairfax County jail were encouraged to register and vote last week by (Democrat) elections officials making what the county's (Democrat) sheriff called the first visit of its kind in his 30 years with the county.
We were ready to blog about this absolute gross injustice — first brought to the public's attention by Delegates Bill Janis (R-56, Glen Allen) and Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), both military veterans (Delegate Lingamfelter was a tank colonel in the Gulf War) — when we just received a news release from the office of Attorney General Bob McDonnell announcing that he has written and issued an opinion that tells Mr. Suleman to shape up and count the votes! (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot article, here.) Delegate Janis last week officially requested the opinion from Attorney General McDonnell — himself a vet and whose daughter has been deployed to Iraq.
At issue was a minor technicality (Richmond Times-Dispatch article, here) that no Virginia registrar had ever considered an impediment to the counting of the votes of overseas military personnel, especially since a federal law allows military personnel a waiver for the particular circumstance in question. Yet, Mr. Suleman, the jailbird cherry picker, proposed to be the first to ignore the federal law. (Human Events article here).
Another irony: Fairfax County is the home to George Washington. Fine way of continuing the tradition, Mr. Suleman, of respecting the U.S. Military, which your county's most famous citizen did so much to form.
Meanwhile, where was Governor Tim Kaine on this issue? Not a peep. Isn't he Barack Obama's national co-chairman? Coincidence in his silence? We can tell you that besides travelling the country to campaign for liberal Democrats while the commonwealth's finances are falling apart, Governor Kaine was busy restoring felons' voting rights at such a dizzying rate that one wonders if he has diligently reviewed their applications. At this point last year he had restored a record 729 felons voting rights outdone only by this year's blistering pace of 758, per Delegate Janis on WRVA radio Friday afternoon.
The right to vote is a cherished value in our country. Actions by Mr. Suleman and the governor, not to mention renegade groups such as ACORN (see the CNN column of Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Times), devalue the votes of all law abiding citizens and the brave men and women in uniform who constantly defend us and our freedoms.
Posted below is the news release issued by the office of Attorney General Bob McDonnell. The link to the opinion itself is at the conclusion of the statement.
McDonnell Opinion: Count Absentee Military Ballots
Opinion Finds Federal Law Preempts State Law; Federal Ballots without Witness Address Are Lawful, Must be Counted
Fairfax — Attorney General Bob McDonnell released a formal opinion today concluding that federal absentee ballots from overseas military voters lacking the printed name and address of a witness must be counted. The opinion affirms that federal law preempts state law, thus clarifying the state and federal statutes regarding the issue. The confusion centered over whether a state law requiring a witness's printed name and address controls federal absentee ballots or the federal law governs this issue. The opinion was requested by Delegate Bill Janis (R-Henrico) and is attached to this release.
In the formal opinion the Attorney General finds, "It is . . . my opinion that the applicable provision of Virginia law, § 24.2-702.1(B), interpreted to require an overseas military voter submitting only a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to include the printed name and address of the person who signs the witness statement is preempted by the provisions of the (federal) Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Finally, it is my opinion that general registrars may not reject a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot submitted by overseas military voters for the November 4, 2008 federal election that does not include a printed name and address for the person who signs the witness statement. ..."
Approximately 100 Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots have been set aside in Fairfax County pending a legal conclusion regarding the discrepancy between state and federal law. Additional Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots may also have been received in other jurisdictions. The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot is most commonly used by members of the military who are stationed overseas and have not received a state absentee ballot. It is a means by which service members can be guaranteed a vote in federal elections.
A copy of this formal opinion was provided to the State Board of Elections this afternoon.