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Troops’ voting rights found lacking, university study finds

July 27, 2011
A service member fills out absentee voter information at an overseas base. Chapman study finds protection of military voting rights lacking in several states. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)


The AMVETS Legal Clinic at Chapman University School of Law, in conjunction with the Washington, D.C.-based Military Voter Protection (MVP) Project, has released a report on the treatment of military voters in the 2010 election.  The report exposes 14 states and the District of Columbia for failing to comply with the recently enacted MOVE Act, a federal law that requires absentee ballots to be mailed to deployed service members at least 45 days prior to an election.  

The report, authored by Chapman Adjunct Professor Eric Eversole, is based on data collected by law students at Chapman University and the University of California at Berkeley.  It concludes that of the 2 million military voters covered by the report, only 4.6% cast an absentee ballot that counted in 2010.   It also concludes that the Department of Justice failed to implement and enforce the new federal law, which had a clear and undeniable impact on military voters.  These failures adversely impacted thousands of military and overseas voters.

“The data say it all—it is disappointing that military voters continue to have their voices silenced on Election Day,” said Eric Eversole, founder and executive director of the MVP Project.  Eversole, a veteran of the Navy JAG Corps and an adjunct professor at Chapman University’s AMVETS Legal Clinic, added, “If we are going to turn this ship around, it has to become a top priority for both the states and the Administration.”

Professor Kyndra Rotunda, who directs Chapman’s AMVETS Legal Clinic, said “We are delighted to co-publish this important research and we are proud of the Chapman and Berkeley law students who painstakingly uncovered the raw data behind it.”  Rotunda, also a former JAG, added, “The students called all states covered by the report, in order to get the most accurate figures, so we have it from the horse’s mouth.”

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