- Posted September 7, 2012 by
Soldier Denied Voting Right
While McGowan was busy securing America’s right to vote the small town he has chosen to call home, became embroiled in controversy. The community is outraged over the behavior and conduct of school board members and the superintendent, Elaine Farris. A citizen’s group, Stand Up Clark County, was formed and accused the board of education and superintendent of corruption, workplace bullying, gross mismanagement and violent threats.
McGowan may have desired his well-earned rest but instead he merely traded one war for another. The same high standards, code of ethics, honor and self-discipline that lead him to enlist in the military now would be used in a smaller battle too close to home. McGowan lacks the ability to turn the other way when the freedoms he and fellow soldiers secured for us are abused. The quiet life E-8, 1st Sergeant McGowan desired would be put on hold once more so he could serve the public.
On deadline day for filing, McGowan took his properly completed paperwork to the courthouse in his hometown of Winchester, KY. To his surprise, his candidacy was denied on grounds that he wasn’t a registered voter. He explained that a service member has the right to vote wherever they are. He was curtly informed him that if he wasn’t registered in Clark County it didn’t count.
Growing up with a father that served in the military for 30 years and his own personal experiences have made McGowan adept in the art of diplomacy. His distinguished military service has ingrained in him the need to always be prepared. All of that would be sorely tested on this day.
McGowan’s ability to rapidly absorb and retain information worked to his advantage, as he was able to quote the exact law that gave him voting privileges. Unfortunately, the individuals at the courthouse were more insistent upon obeying a local law that they failed to consider a higher authority.
As the clock was ticking down the minutes until the deadline for candidate registration, the clerks confirm that McGowan was in fact a registered voter. Unbelievably, his candidacy paperwork was handed back to him as ineligible. The law states a candidate for the school board must be a registered voter before filing to run. Based upon information entered into the computer McGowan had only been a registered voter for a few moments. Based upon state guidelines McGowan was still ineligible as a school board candidate because he had filed prior to the computer showing him as a registered voter.
The click is ticking yet McGowan remains calm and focused. With only three minutes left to file for candidacy the court clerk informs McGowan he is a registered voter but he was not when he filed his candidate papers for the board of education seat. McGowan, able to think quickly on his feet requested a new packet, completed it and refilled.
What is most shocking in McGowan’s case is the blasé attitude of the clerk. It was as if the clerk were saying thanks for putting your life on the line but you are not acceptable to be on our board of education. What do you think? Should a military service member be exempt from certain laws? Exactly how do we treat the individuals that are willing to put their life on the line to make our lives comfortable? Is it ever acceptable for a clerk to challenge the right to vote for someone willing to do what most of us fear - placing the value of our life below another’s?