VA Secretary Peake Urged to Stop Blocking Voter Registration
Today, leading voting rights groups called on James B. Peake, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to reverse a recent decision that prohibits VA offices and facilities from offering voter registration and potentially registering tens of thousands of veterans.
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Common Cause, Demos and the League of Women Voters urged Secretary Peake to approve future state requests to allow voter registration at VA agencies and offices. This would be a reversal of his ruling on a May 1, 2008, request by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen that he agree to the designation of VA sites in her state as voter registration agencies, as permitted under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz made a similar request on July 2, 2008.
"As a former secretary of state, I know how important it is for our veterans to be able to participate in our democracy," said Miles Rapoport, president of Demos and former Secretary ofState of Connecticut. "I urge James Peake to stop blocking voter registration by our vets."
The national voting rights groups - in conjunction with their grassroots state-based chapters around the country - also sent letters today to chief election officials in each state, calling on them to request that the VA agree to the designation of its offices
and facilities in their states as voter registration agencies.
"Designation of VA facilities as voter registration agencies is the single most important action that can be taken to help veterans participate in our nation's elections," said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. "We will be working with state election officials to make this a reality."