LAW REVIEW 1225, March 2012
Federal Court Order Protects Military Voting Rights in New York
By Captain Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
7.0—Military Voting Rights
United States v. State of New York, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-1214 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 27, 2012).
Under a federal law that was amended in 2009, local election officials (LEOs) must have absentee ballots printed and ready to mail by the 45th day before any primary or election for federal office, so that military personnel will have sufficient time to receive their ballots, mark them, and return them on time to be counted, no matter where the service of our country has taken them. Readers: Please contact your LEO and the LEOs in several surrounding counties to remind them of this requirement and to monitor their compliance. If you find that a LEO has missed the 45-day requirement for whatever reason, please send an e-mail to Bob Carey, the Director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) in DOD. His e-mail is [email protected]. Please copy me, at [email protected].
For my entire professional career, since I graduated from law school and passed the Texas bar exam in 1976, I have made the protection of the rights of those who serve in our armed forces the principal focus of my life. In the immediate aftermath of the 1976 general election, just days after I received my bar exam results and was sworn in as a lawyer, I represented a client who was a freshman Congressman who had just been elected to Congress in a special election six months earlier. He very narrowly lost the 1976 general election, and along with a much more senior lawyer I represented him in the recount and election contest. That Congressman was Ron Paul—yes, the same guy who is now running for President.
In 2009, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act), which amended UOCAVA in several important ways. The most important 2009 amendment was the addition of an explicit statutory requirement that each state must mail out ballots to UOCAVA voters by the 45thday prior to Election Day.