RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

VA VOTER REGISTRATION BAN UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on July 31st, 2008

The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to resist efforts by lawmakers to allow voter registration groups access to patients at hospitals and nursing homes. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James Peake said VA will provide information to veterans about voter registration but will not open the doors to outside groups for two reasons: VA is not prepared to judge whether an organization is truly nonpartisan, and involving federal workers in a partisan operation would violate federal law.

“The agency is not in a position to examine the agenda, history and motivations of every organization that may wish to conduct voter registration drives in our facilities,” Peake said in a 15 JUL letter to three senators, Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-HI) and John Kerry (D-MA). The Veterans Health Administration has a policy, dated 5 MAY 08 to assist patients who want to vote or register to vote, but it does not allow voter registration drives in order to avoid involving employees in partisan activities and disrupting medical facilities. Peake said voting and voter educational materials are being made available to patients. Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said he is “amazed that VA insists on banning all voter registration drives by outside groups” and thinks VA is reading too much into the Hatch Act, which limits the political activities of federal workers. “If VA really cannot distinguish between nonpartisan and partisan voter registration drives, it should just allow both and advise VA employees not to participate if they are uncertain, since the Hatch Act is implicated only if VA employees participate. As it stands, VA policy “makes it unnecessarily difficult” for some veterans to vote, Akaka said. (Source: Air Force Times Rick Maze article 21 Jul 08 ++]

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