“WTF?” Dep’t

The VA refuses to help disabled vets living in VA hospitals register to vote.

The Department of Veterans Affairs refuses to become a voter registration site under the National Voter Registration act. That means that disabled veterans living in VA hospitals in states that don’t have mail-in registration will effectively lose their right to vote because they won’t be able to change their voting addresses.

More generally, the VA forbids “partisan activities, i.e., those involving commentary or actions in support of, or in opposition to, or attempting to influence, any current policy of the Government of the United States, or any private group, association, or enterprise” from all its facilities. Read literally, that means that disabled vets in VA facilities couldn’t organize to petition Congress for better veterans’ services.

The good news, I suppose, is that the Bush Administration must have concluded that disabled vets are probably voting Democratic this year. But I’d love to see the media start asking Dana Perino at the White House whether it’s really the Administration position that wounded warriors living in government hospitals give up their First Amendment rights as well as their right to vote.

Yes, I know: in my dreams.

This would be another excellent minor outrage for Barack Obama to make a fuss about.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com