DoD Deputy IG: ‘We Were Unable to Contact’ Military Installation Voter Assistance Offices in 50 Percent of the Cases

By Melanie Arter | September 18, 2012 | 1:01 PM EDT

In this March 30, 2012 file photo, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, talks with his chief of staff Jeremy Bash after landing in an V-22 Osprey at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (AP Photo/Mike Blake, Pool, File)

( - Ambassador Kenneth Moorefield, Defense Department, deputy inspector general for plans and operations, testified last week before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel that he was unable to make contact with 50 percent of the military’s voter assistance offices.

“Ultimately, in about 50 percent of the cases, we were unable to contact IVAOs (Installation Voter Assistance Offices) using our updated version of the FVAP (Federal Voting Assistance Program) website installation list and concluded that the offices either did not exist or were not reasonably accessible,” Moorefield said in his opening statement.

Some senior military officials blamed the problem on inadequate funding by the law to finance the $15-20 million a year necessary to “fund at least one assistance person at each IVAO and bases,” he said.

“In partial explanation, some senior military officials pointed out that the law had not provided additional funding which FVAP estimated at $15-20 million per year necessary to fund at least one assistance person at each IVAO and bases, moreover, were not funded internally by DoD Naval commanders to meet this obligation, Moorefield said.

The MOVE Act of 2009 requires that a voter assistance office be opened on every military installation, except in a war zone.

“To determine if the services had established a robust IVA presence on all installations worldwide, we examined FVAP’s official list of installations as of March 2012,” Moorefield said.

“We immediately noted that the list was in some instances either inaccurate or incomplete, with installations such as Ft. Meade, Md.; Camp Casey, Korea; and U.S. Army Garrison in Kaiserslautern in Germany not listed and other bases listed that no longer existed,” he said.

“It became that installation consolidations or closures resulting from the 2005 BRACK program such as the consolidation of the 12 multi-service joint bases in part had contributed to mission duplications,” Moorefield added.

Moorefield said the DoD tested the accessibility of the Installation Voter Assistance Offices by putting themselves “in the shoes of potential military voters seeking help.”

“Using the official FVAP website information as of March 2012, we attempted to contact each of the 229 IVAOs listed. It turned out that not all of the FVAP contact information was current,” he said.

“We initially called the IVA phone number. If no one answered, we left a voicemail asking for a return call, if there was an email address, followed up with an email. If we could not make contact on our initial attempt, we called installation telephone operators or accessed installation websites to obtain updated IVAO contact information,” Moorefield added.

In all, he discovered that 50 percent of the time, they were unable to contact the Installation Voter Assistance Offices using the updated version of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.