This past May, the Veterans Affairs Department, led by Secretary James Peake, issued a directive prohibiting nonpartisan voter registration drives “at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans.” In today’s New York Times, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz writes, “What is the secretary of Veterans Affairs thinking?“:
The department has placed an illegitimate obstacle in the way of election officials across the country and, more important, in the way of veterans who want to vote. A group of 21 secretaries of state — Republicans and Democrats throughout the country, led by me and my counterpart in Washington State, Sam Reed — has asked Secretary Peake to lift his department’s ridiculous ban on voter registration drives. […]
But federal legislation shouldn’t be needed for the Department of Veterans Affairs to lift the ban on voter registration drives by state and local election officials and nonpartisan groups.
The federal government should be doing everything it can to support our nation’s veterans who have served us so courageously. There can be no justification for any barrier that impedes the ability of veterans to participate in democracy’s most fundamental act, the vote.