Congressman Chris Murphy announced Tuesday that heâ€™s sponsoring federal legislation to lift the ban on voter registration drives at veteransâ€™ centers.
A new directive by the US Department of Veteransâ€™ Affairs bans non-partisan voter registration drives at VA hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters. The policyâ€™s faced sharp criticism nationwide. Standing on the Cheshire town green, Congressman Chris Murphy says heâ€™s introducing new legislation, the Veteran Voting Support Act that would repeal the ban
"Organizations with long nonpartisan traditions like voter registration officials, registrars of voters, the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office, and historically nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women Voters..weâ€™re talking about allowing truly nonpartisan organizations to be able to go into veterans facilities and register these veterans."
Murphy says the legislation will be put on the fast track in Washington. Waterbury resident Joe Nolan supports the idea.
"Iâ€™m a veteran. But Iâ€™m also a Gold Star father. My son was killed in Iraq three and a half years ago. And I think anything we can do to help veterans is a good thing. If we can have voter registration drives for other groups of people in the country, why canâ€™t we have it for veterans?"
Representative Murphyâ€™s legislation mirrors a similar bill in the senate co-sponsored by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry was New Haven on Monday.
"Its really a matter of just information and freedom. I mean itâ€™s a simple matter of choice. If anybodyâ€™s got the right to make that choice and knows what they want or donâ€™t want I think its people who serve their country and are wounded in a veterans hospital or whatever their status is."
Veteransâ€™ officials say the ban is based in part on the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. Theyâ€™ve also suggested that voter drives could disrupt operations at VA facilities.