Ballots and Bullets - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Ballots and Bullets



    Ballots and Bullets
    Illinois Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk shakes hands with members of a dance troup at the annual Couumbus Day Parade, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)


    What happens when 25 Illinois counties fail to mail out ballots to military personnel in time for the November election?

    The Republican Party goes nuts, and right-wing bloggers start cooking up conspiracy theories, that’s what happens.

    The 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act requires all ballots to be sent out 45 days before the election -- this year, that’s Sept. 18. In order to be counted, the ballots must be postmarked Nov. 1 and arrive back in the U.S. by Nov. 15. But some county clerks missed the deadline. St. Clair County, home of Scott Air Force Base, didn’t send out its ballots until Oct. 4, because County Clerk Bob Delaney was waiting for a ruling on whether the Constitution Party would be included. (It wasn’t.) The Department of Justice is investigating the situation.

    This led a blogger on Pajamas Media to conclude that Delaney, a Democrat, was threatening the voting rights of servicemen because he wanted to place a GOP spoiler on the ballot -- a double whammy against Republicans. [/]

    Both major Republican candidates have issued more sober statements.

    Here’s Bill Brady:

    I am deeply concerned about today’s disturbing report that Illinois may have failed to mail absentee ballots to our military members serving overseas in a timely manner, and in accordance with the law,” Brady said. “The U.S. Department of Justice is right to conduct a full and immediate investigation. The Federal Government and the state of Illinois have the responsibility to take any and all action to ensure the right of those who defend our freedom overseas to cast their votes in this important election. Failure to act on this disturbing report threatens the integrity of this election, and our democratic process.

    And here’s Mark Kirk:

    I am deeply troubled that the spokesperson for the State Board of Elections said that military ballots in Illinois may not be counted in this election. Our men and women in uniform are putting their lives on the line everyday to defend our democratic freedoms. What a disgrace it would be if our state denied them theirs. I will do everything in my power to defend the rights of our men and women in uniform. I urge my opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, to stand with me in support of our men and women in uniform.

    The Democrats? So far, they don’t have anything to say about it. They’re still focused on accusing Mark Kirk of trying to suppress the black vote by sending election monitors to precincts in Rockford, East St. Louis and Chicago.

    Do we need to explain that blacks vote Democratic, while soldiers, sailors and airmen tend to vote Republican? No, but both parties need to explain why they only complain about voting rights violations when it affects members of the other party.

    UPDATE: Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign issued this statement today, criticizing Brady for making a political issue of military ballots:

    "Governor Quinn is deeply concerned that members of our military serving overseas may have been deprived their fundamental right to vote. The county governments responsible must ensure that all registered voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard in this election. 

    "Meanwhile, Bill Brady is trying to exploit a serious situation for political gain, yet again.

    "Senator Brady, who has called for indiscriminate cuts to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs totaling at least 10 percent, got on his soapbox (Facebook), promising things would be different if he were Governor. Unfortunately, however, Brady's attempted political hit lacked any basis in fact. County governments, not the state, are responsible for absentee ballots.

    "Illinois servicemembers don't need grandstanding politicians like Bill Brady. They need jobs when they come home, and assistance for their families while they're deployed-- things Pat Quinn has fought for."