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Criticism for V.A.'s ban on voter registration

The New York Times reports: Voting rights groups are criticizing the Department of Veterans Affairs for its decision to ban registration drives among the veterans living at federally run nursing homes, shelters for the homeless and rehabilitation centers across the country.

The groups say such drives make it easier for veterans to register and participate in the political process, which could be particularly important this year in a presidential election in which the handling of the Iraq war and treatment of veterans will be major campaign issues. ...

Although veterans are not federal employees, department officials based their decision in part on the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. ...

For years, the department allowed the managers of its sites to decide individually whether to permit such drives. In 2004, Steve Preminger, a Democratic county chairman, filed a lawsuit after he was refused permission to register voters at a V.A. campus in Menlo Park, Calif., about 25 miles south of San Francisco. A lower court ruled against Mr. Preminger in January, finding that he had failed to prove that any veteran was actually prevented from voting.

On Thursday, a federal appellate court heard arguments in the case. -- V.A. Ban on Voter Drives Is Criticized - NYTimes.com

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