News Release

Veterans But Not Voters?

SHARON KUFELDT
Kufeldt is the vice-president of Veterans for Peace. She said today: “More than 100,000 people reside for a month or longer at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities nationally. Instead of working hard to enable veterans to register to vote, the VA is obstructing nonpartisan groups who are working to register these people. Even though the VA has claimed to have reversed its policies blocking access, we are still being given the runaround and not being allowed access. They keep putting bureaucratic roadblocks in our way. There are very few weeks left to register voters and all this obstruction is costing time.”

Kufeldt added: “On September 12, me and other members of the local Veterans for Peace chapter inquired with the VA if we could register voters at a San Francisco VA facility. We were not allowed access and were told we could do so only after a process that could take two weeks. We are filing an emergency motion to enforce a court mandate that would allow groups access to the facilities for the purpose of registering voters.”
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PAUL SULLIVAN
Sullivan is the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense. He said today: “When a veteran moves into a VA facility, the veteran’s old registration becomes invalid. The veteran must re-register before he or she can vote again. On May 5, 2008, VA issued a ban on nonpartisan voter registration drives at VA facilities. On September 8, VA lifted the ban after Congress and veterans expressed their outrage at this injustice. VA now says it will allow voting assistance for the estimated 100,000 veterans who can no longer vote since they moved into VA facilities. While we are pleased that VA has changed course, we are not confident that they will follow through, because they have taken no action to date.”

Sullivan added: “The clock is running out. Veterans for Common Sense urges all citizens to vote, and we urge VA to make a strong effort to provide voter registration and voting assistance to as many veterans as possible. Every VA facility should have already contacted state and local voting officials for assistance. And if volunteers are needed to sign up veterans in VA nursing homes, then VA should have already contacted reputable nonpartisan charities such as the League of Women Voters.”
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MARY G. WILSON
Wilson is the president of League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters issued the following statement: “The Department of Veterans Affairs’ latest directive, which modifies its misguided policy barring voter registration activities in VA facilities, is not enough. … First, the directive imposes no affirmative obligation on VA facilities and agencies to register veterans. … Second, the VA’s directive makes voter registration services available only to patients residing in VA facilities, and not to veterans availing themselves of VA services on an out-patient basis or otherwise obtaining services from the VA. … Third, under the VA’s directive it is unclear whether and to what extent outside groups — which are responsible for millions of voter registrations every election — will actually be permitted to conduct voter registration activities. … Finally, the VA’s directive will not guarantee prompt services so veterans are able to register and vote this November.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167