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Senators Feinstein and Kerry Urge Veterans Affairs Secretary to Ensure Veterans Have Access to Voter Registration

Washington, DC U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Rules and Administration Committee, and John Kerry (D-Mass.) are urging Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake to ensure that all veterans in VA facilities are able to participate in voter registration efforts.

Many veterans live at VA facilities and some, especially those who are disabled, find it difficult to travel off-campus for services, including voter registration. However, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that voter registration groups are not allowed to register veterans on the grounds of VA facilities.

“Certainly we all agree it is an insult to those who have fought to spread democracy and freedom overseas to be denied the right to participate in their own democracy here at home,” the senators wrote in a letter to Secretary Peake. “We understand that the Court of Appeals seemed to indicate that the VA’s role in assisting veterans was purely medical. The VA has a long and proud history of providing a myriad of services to veterans – helping them lead successful and productive lives. Providing them with the opportunity to become more actively involved in our democracy seems an appropriate role for the VA.”

Senator Feinstein has suggested that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs become a “voter registration agency” within the definition of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and provide voter registration materials. The Act requires states to offer voter registration opportunities at all offices that provide public assistance, services to the disabled and at all motor vehicle offices.

Read the letters from Senators Feinstein and Kerry sent to the Honorable James B. Peake, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs