Today, I sent the following letter to each member of the 10th CD Democratic Committee to ask them to protect the voting rights of troops by choosing a state-run primary nominating process.
Thank you so much for your incredible support for Democrats in the 10th CD, and for your thoughtful consideration of our 2018 nomination process. I wanted to send you a personal note, especially in honor of both Election Day and Veterans Day, to encourage you to include service members in your nominating approach.
At 17, I first swore an oath to uphold and defend our Constitution. That year, I turned 18 in time for the Presidential election. On an absentee ballot filled out in a grey barracks at the U.S. Military Academy, I cast my first ever ballot -- a vote for Al Gore. As disappointed as I was in the outcome, I was proud to have participated in our democratic process as both a citizen and a soldier.
Since then, like many service members, I’ve cast ballots from all corners of the world. Each year, tens of thousands of soldiers on the front lines of our nation’s conflicts also cast absentee ballots, as do military spouses like my wife, Karen. Hundreds of thousands more cast absentee ballots from their duty stations in every corner of our country and the globe. In doing so, they have a chance to exercise the rights of our citizens that they dutifully defend.
Women and men who put their lives on the line for our country ought to be able to vote, one of the most basic rights of citizenship. And so should their spouses. But soldiers and their spouses face too many barriers to voting, from failures in the military mail system, to local errors in sending ballots on time, to the vagaries of state regulations.
Yesterday, still a citizen-soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves, I was proud to exercise my Constitutional right to vote and cast votes for fellow Veterans Ralph Northam and Donte Tanner, as well as our other great Democratic candidates on the ballot. I’m so proud to be a Democrat, the Party that believes that we should eliminate barriers to voting and ensure that all citizens have an opportunity to choose their representatives.
In the ongoing discussion in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District about the nominating method to select a Democratic nominee, I wanted to restate my endorsement of a state-run primary -- especially as an U.S. Army Veteran. Every service member and military spouse registered to vote in Virginia 10 should have the opportunity to choose their candidate -- especially our troops deployed in harm’s way. I urge you to ensure our troops and their spouses have the opportunity to participate in the nomination process through a state-run primary.
Thank you again for everything you do. I look forward to working with you to turn VA-10 blue!