Bernie Buescher Doesn’t Get His Way: Time to Make Military Votes a Priority

Update, 8/28: I have uploaded a copy of the official DoD letter denying Buescher’s waiver request.

A few weeks ago, Bill Ritter-appointed Secretary of State Bernie Buescher brought his own campaign into the news limelight by requesting a waiver from the law requiring ballots be sent out to military personnel no later than 45 days before the general election. By doing so, Buescher opened the door to accusations that he was trying “to shaft military voters.”

Last week Brad Jones from Face The State reported on Buescher’s national television appearance on Fox News where he sought to justify the waivers, noting:

…it’s hard to understand why Buescher is allowing himself to become the national poster boy for military voting snafus when innovative solutions are well within reach.

No surprise then that Buescher’s Republican challenger (and Army veteran) Scott Gessler should jump on the issue and call him out for his actions. In a letter to the Grand Junction Sentinel, Gessler faulted Buescher for not doing his due diligence and for failing to display a “can-do attitude.”

And now, today comes word that the Department of Defense has denied the waiver request from Colorado — along with requests from 3 other states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands.

The nicest thing you can say about Secretary of State Bernie Buescher in this situation is that ensuring our military personnel have equal and fair ballot access isn’t exactly a high priority. Time now works against the Western Slope Democrat. Will he start working on a creative solution, or hope that voters don’t take notice? Because failure to comply with the 45-day time frame will open up the state of Colorado to a lawsuit.

By my reckoning the Secretary of State has about three weeks (until September 18) to get ballots out to our Colorado-resident servicemen and women. Let’s just hope Buescher’s actions end up having the least possible negative impact on our military personnel serving in dangerous war zones and other far reaches. Of all people, their right to help decide the democratic elections process should remain sacred. In the meantime, the appointed Secretary of State may have handed a winning issue to his Republican challenger.

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