Working with a range of different veterans and voting rights groups, the Brennan Center has taken a leading role in advocating legislation aimed at eliminating barriers to registration and voting for American veterans, and ensuring that those who have fought to protect the right to vote are able to exercise it.
Our work has come in response to a directive issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) on May 5, 2008, which banned voter registration drives from all VA facilities. In the aftermath of this unfortunate decision by the VA, we joined numerous groups in urging Congress to adopt h a legislative solution to the VA’s bureaucratic blunder: the Veteran Voting Support Act.
The legislation would would open the VA to registration drives and require the VA to make voter registration services available at VA facilities in states that request it. It would require the VA to help veterans request and cast absentee ballots. And it would open VA facilities to non-partisan groups and election officials, so that they could provide veterans with information on registration and voting. All these services will go a long way to ensuring that veterans are able to exercise their most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote.
In response to widespread criticism and broad-based calls for Congress to adopt the Veterans Voting Support Act, the VA modified its policy slightly, issuing a new directive that was a step in the right direction, but not a total fix. The new directive didn’t actually require VA facilities to register voters, and it didn’t actually open VA facilities to registration drives by non-partisan, outside groups — it only mandated that the VA “review” requests from outside groups to conduct registration drives.
The VA’s partial halting steps forward only heightened the need for Congressional action. Thankfully, the House passed the Act (H.R. 6625) on a voice vote. The Senate has not yet acted on this important legislation. We continue to call on them to do so.
Brennan Center Letters in Support of Veteran Voting Support Act
Letter to Senate Rules Committee in Support of S. 3308 (7/24/08)
Letter to House Administration Committee in Support of H.R. 6625 (7/29/08)
Letter to Sen. Feinstein in Support of S. 3308 (9/12/08)
Letter to Rep. Brady in Support of H.R. 6625 (9/15/08)
Letter to U.S. Senate in Support of S. 3308 (9/25/08)
Adam Skaggs, “Help Vets Vote; They Deserve No Less” (8/1/08)
Adam Skaggs, “Congress Considers Reversing VA Ban” (9/19/08)
Adam Skaggs, “No Time to Vote” (1/7/09)