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Vets want Constitution amended to allow Guam to vote for president

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Good enough to risk their life defending democracy but not good enough to vote for their commander-in-chief? It's a question asked by veterans just as a federal lawsuit is filed pushing for a constitutional amendment to vote for president to all Americans, wherever they live.

"It's okay for the president to tell us to go to war and it's okay to send us back home in coffins graved with US flags, but it's not okay to vote for the US president?" challenged Rodney Cruz, Jr.  That's the feeling Cruz, a military veteran, gets when it comes to voting restrictions in selecting a commander-in-chief. Cruz is the president and founder of the Iraq Afghanistan and Persian Gulf Veterans of the Pacific Group. The Guam-based veterans organization joins the federal lawsuit filed by six US citizens living in Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands challenging federal and state laws that deny them the right to vote for president and voting representation in congress.

Attorney Leevin Camacho told KUAM News, "What's unique about the lawsuit is all of our plaintiffs lived in Illinois at some point. If they moved to the CNMI, they would be able to vote for absentee ballot, for president, the US Senate and for the US House of Representatives, but because they choose to live on Guam or in Puerto Rico, they cannot vote for using absentee ballot. So the lawsuit is questioning why can you allow some people living in territories to while others living in US territories are denied that right?"

Camacho is the local council as part of efforts by the We the People Project, an organization advocating for equal rights and representation for the over 4 million US citizens who continue to be disenfranchised because they live in US territories. "These are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but the impacts will be more far reaching" he continued. "We look at this as a progressive lawsuit to get us to the point where we begin to question why can't everybody living in the territories be able to vote for president."

He adds the court system is one way of raising political awareness. And with the 2016 presidential election cycle in full swing, the group is calling for a new constitutional amendment. He adds the constitution has already been amended once to provide federal voting rights to residents of non-state areas particularly with Washington, DC," he said.

Camacho added, "If you look on the website, there are three courses of action: we are encouraging people we know, friends and family who live off island, because we don't have the right to vote, to encourage their elected official to push for political change."

You can visit equallyamerican.org to sign the equal rights petition or representguam.com to support the right to vote, wherever you live.

 Cruz concluded, "The equal rights movement for us on Guam is an important step in Guam's political power in Washington, and in regards to veterans, it's going to be a big push for us to let Washington know and let our voices be heard."
 

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