Samuel F. Wright

Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
Director, Service Members Law Center
(800) 809-9448, ext. 730
Email: swright@roa.org
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Law Review 1203

LAW REVIEW 1203

January 2012

Don’t Let Redistricting Litigation Disenfranchise Military Voters

By Captain Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)

7.0—Military voting rights

Q:  I am the local election official here in this county.  I have read with great interest your “Law Review” articles about military voting rights and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  This is an issue near and dear to my heart.  I served on active duty in the Marine Corps and participated in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait.  My son joined the Marine Corps last year, and he will likely be in Afghanistan at the time of the 2012 presidential election.

I want more than anything to get absentee ballots printed and mailed by the 45th day before Election Day, so that my son and all the other service members from this county will have ample time to receive their ballots, mark them, and return them on time to be counted.  But there is a problem.  Our state legislature redrew the congressional district lines, and also the lines for the State Senate and House of Representatives, in 2011.  One party controls the legislature and the Governor’s office, and the other party has brought suit to challenge the way the new lines were drawn.  We do not yet know how the districts will be drawn, much less who the candidates will be.  Unless this dispute is resolved quickly, there is no way that I will be able to get the absentee ballots out on time.

A:  Thank you for bringing this situation to my attention.  Readers:  Whenever there is a dispute about redistricting or ballot access that threatens to disenfranchise overseas military voters please let me know ASAP.  You can reach me toll-free at 800-809-9448, extension 730.  My e-mail is SWright@roa.org. 

Where appropriate, I will file, on behalf of ROA, an amicus curiae brief in the court where the ballot access or redistricting lawsuit is pending.  I will not take sides in the underlying dispute, but I will point out that the pendency of the lawsuit could have the effect of disenfranchising military personnel overseas.  I will urge the court to resolve the lawsuit as expeditiously as possible and to consider interim measures to ensure that the pendency of the lawsuit does not result in the disenfranchisement of the brave young men and women who are away from home and prepared to lay down their lives in defense of our country.