Allen West Reprimands Fed Vote Assistance Director For Failure Concerning MOVE Act

Last Thursday Rep. Allen West (R-FL) grilled the acting director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, Pamela Mitchell, for fulfilling the MOVE Act of 2009. The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act is to make sure that that is a voter assistance office on every American military installation across the globe.

The questioning took place before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Not only was Ms. Mitchell questioned, but also Ambassador Kenneth Moorefield, who is the Defense Department’s deputy inspector general for plans and operations.

West used a military metaphor to open his questioning of Ms. Mitchell. He asked,

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“If a commander says to a unit and the … first sergeant: We want the unit to go down to the motor pool, and we want to do PMCS (Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services) on vehicles, take care of our vehicle today. But instead, if the unit goes off to the barracks and they clean up the barracks, did the unit meet the commander’s mission and intent?”

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He then read the MOVE Act citing it was “designed to ensure that American men and women serving overseas have every opportunity to vote, requiring military services to open a voter assistance office on every one of its installations, except in a war zone.”

He then asked the implementation of that Act was a success or failure seeing the deputy inspector general was only able to contact fifty percent of the military’s voter assistance offices.

While Mitchell attempted an excuse saying that the problem was because of “contact information,” West quickly corrected her stating, “But that’s not, that’s not what the law said. The law didn’t say anything about contact information, and that’s why I used that metaphor. A commander says go to the motor pool and PMCS your vehicles, and you go off to the barracks and you clean the barracks, did you meet the commander’s intent? So that’s the whole point here.”

West wanted to know if the intent of the Act was met and pointed out that there was an obvious problem of not meeting it and thus why the hearing was convened in the first place.

When West asked Mitchell if she had reviewed the processes following the 2010 elections, she answered in the affirmative, but when asked what she discovered, she gave the standard “I don’t recall” answer.

West then asked, “So, did we do anything between 2010 and now? I know that you just said that you’re doing things weekly, and that’s great, but is that a reaction to us all of sudden having news reports and hearings, or did we have a plan of action with milestones between 2010 and 6 November 2012 that would have made sure we wouldn’t have to have this hearing?”

While she said that guidance was issued two years ago to the military on the Installation Voter Assistance (IVA) offices, she then went on to state, “The services, again, as recently as March of this year reported that they were operational, and as I’ve said a few moments ago, we visited 43 of those, representing about 25 percent, and found that they did exist. And as of yesterday, we have valid contact information for all— the actual number is 221 for the military services.”

“So, are we on the right track to get the intent of this law implemented before we have the 6th of November?” West asked. “Are we moving in the right direction? Do we have the type of milestones so that the military members, which I have friends and family members, they’re starting to feel a little disenfranchised. That’s the truth about what they’re saying to me.”

She claims that the resources are available to both the military and the IVA. She also added, “It may be an important one in some places, and as to the issue of which installations they’re on – that was up to service discretion, and the reason for that is, they are in the best position to understand their population, what the demographics look like in any particular area, and also what their operational environment is.”

“So, an analogy I would give you is – ID card offices, dental clinics, medical clinics – those are not on every single installation worldwide. But they are in places where they can be accessed by service members,” Mitchell concluded.

“But this law gave responsibility to your office to be able to make sure that that stuff happened though,” West chided.

This is a clear demonstration that the Obama administration is not keen on making sure those who are in the military have a voice in the election this November. The utter incompetence displayed in implementing a simply law results in abject failure of nearly fifty percent of military installations not even being contacted in a two year period to establish what the law mandates.

Watch the relevant portion of the hearing below:

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