Growing Chorus of Texas Veterans Blasts Bill White's Stance Against Military Voting Rights

Reported by the Republican Party of Texas:

With the Texas GI Forum beginning in Austin today, a growing number of military veterans across Texas are blasting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White for his longstanding opposition to the voting rights of military voters. White, the former mayor of Houston, last week tried to explain away a story about his past support for limiting military voting rights when he was Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. In attempting to do so, White's campaign referred back to a an op-ed that Bill White wrote in support of the lawsuit, in which he said:

"Military voters have every right to vote where their children are enrolled in school. Military personnel should be allowed to cast ballots in local elections that determine city or county taxes, police and fire protection, etc."

“Bill White calls that ‘strong support for the military’ but it’s really an unconscionable attempt to limit their votes because he doesn’t like the way some of them vote,” said Gen. Leroy Sisco (USA-Ret). “His attitude toward the military is shocking. He would callously rob active duty and even their spouses of the right to vote here in Texas. I’m outraged by it, and I’ve heard from many retired military and wounded heroes from all over Texas who are outraged as well.”

“Texas is my home and I never gave up my home of record while I was abroad for 10 years,” said former Navy SEAL and Afghanistan combat veteran Marcus Luttrell. “Texas is everything to me – I wore a Texas flag when I fought in Afghanistan. Bill White is going to tell me that I don’t have the right to vote?“

Robert Leonard was a sergeant in the US Army in Iraq from January to November of 2005. He was wounded by a roadside bomb and lost part of his leg. “It’s disheartening that the very freedoms that these men and women are trying to uphold for all Americans are just getting ripped right out from underneath them,” he said. “It makes me sick actually. Just because they might be from another state doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have the right to participate in local politics when they’re stationed here in Texas.”

These comments echo those of Bosnia war hero Captain Scott O’Grady, who called on White to apologize for his anti-military attitude last week. “As someone who has served overseas, I am personally offended by Bill White’s belief that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines serving their nation should be denied the right to vote for candidates seeking county, local, and state offices – including the office he is now running for. Bill White should be ashamed of his anti-military beliefs,” O’Grady said.

In 1997, as Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, Bill White supported lawsuits aimed at overturning a pair of south Texas elections that turned on the absentee votes of several hundred military voters. He also supported legislation that would have put restrictions on military voting into Texas law. As White’s 2003 statement reads, military members from Texas who are stationed elsewhere, as well as military members who are stationed long term within Texas, would find their voting rights tied to where their children are enrolled in school. This would pose a serious problem for single military members as well as military families who are stationed together with their children attending school at their duty station. If White's statement became law, these military members would lose their Texas voting rights.

Luttrell, who was wounded in a deadly firefight with the Taliban five years ago this month, added: “I’d like to see Bill White come tell me that I don’t have the right to vote in Texas.”

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