Posts Tagged ‘Hatch Act’

August 11 (Originally posted by Mischa)

This started a while ago, but didn’t get much press — the AP ran one paragraph on the Democratic response in July. So I’ve been staring at it for 20 minutes now and can’t for life of me come up with one legitimate defense of this:

“On May 5, the department [of Veteran’s Affairs] led by James B. Peake issued a directive that bans nonpartisan voter registration drives at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans. As a result, too many of our most patriotic American citizens — our injured and ill military veterans — may not be able to vote this November.”

Seriously. They’re banning voter registration at VA hospitals. (The full Times opinion piece is here if you want it.)

The department offers two reasons for this: First, “voter registration drives are disruptive to the care of its patients;” and second, registering voters violates the Hatch Act.

First item: To be fair, the Bush administration VA is really doing a fantastic job with patient care. And it’s not like there’s any other distractions at the agency. So bully for them.

Second item: Hatch Act. Yes. Relevent sections in bold italics:

Permitted/Prohibited Activities for Employees Who May Participate in Partisan Political Activity

These federal and D.C. employees may-

* be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections
* register and vote as they choose
* assist in voter registration drives
* express opinions about candidates and issues
* contribute money to political organizations
* attend political fundraising functions
* attend and be active at political rallies and meetings
* join and be an active member of a political party or club
* sign nominating petitions
* campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, municipal ordinances
* campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections
* make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections
* distribute campaign literature in partisan elections
* hold office in political clubs or parties

These federal and D.C. employees may not-

* use official authority or influence to interfere with an election
* solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency
* solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations)
* be candidates for public office in partisan elections
* engage in political activity while:
o on duty
o in a government office
o wearing an official uniform
o using a government vehicle
* wear partisan political buttons on duty

All of it is here, and worth noting that even the more restrictive Hatch group (FBI, Secret Service, NSA) is allowed to register voters.

This is a transparent effort to tamp down voter registration, brought to you by the same administration threatening to veto a veteran’s housing bill that passed with 400+ votes in the House. (Introduced by Senator Obama, it’s currently sitting in the Senate Banking Committee. It’s S-1084 if you feel like calling your upper-house Congresscracker.)

Thankfully, it’s OK if you’re a Republican. The Keyboard Kommandos would bleed from the ears if anyone three degrees left of Tojo tried to block veteran’s voting rights so shamelessly. So the offer stands: $1 to anyone who can provide a compelling argument for this policy.

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