A group of veterans from U.S. island territories filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday seeking the right to vote.

People living in U.S. island territories don’t have the right to vote for president despite carrying U.S. citizenship. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include veterans from Guam and Puerto Rico as well as people from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“So long as you are a U.S. citizen, where you live shouldn’t have anything to do with whether your fundamental right to vote is protected,” Guam plaintiff and U.S. veteran Anthony Bunten told the Pacific Daily News.

day7---Pohnpei warriors

Portraits of fallen Micronesian soldiers hang at the airport on Pohnpei. Both U.S. island territories as well as U.S.-affiliated Micronesian island nations have high per capita rates of deaths in the military.

Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Or as comedian John Oliver put it, “There are a lot of complicated issues surrounding what the precise status of all the U.S. territories should be and what the people who live there would prefer, but surely, when it comes to denying Americans the right to vote, we have to find a better reason than citing a 100-year-old legal decision written by a racist that was always supposed to be temporary.”

For more than a decade, islanders from U.S. territories as well as U.S.-affiliated Micronesian island nations have been joining the military at high rates and suffer a higher percentage of casualties than any U.S. state.

“Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are overrepresented in the U.S. Army by 249%, compared to 43% of blacks, 44% of white and American Indians/Alaskan Natives 53%,” a White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders fact sheet explains.

“In 2005, the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau, as a percentage of their islands’ population, had a casualty rate of 36 deaths per million which exceeded that of any U.S. state. Vermont came closest with 16 deaths per million. The national rate is about 5 per million.”

A recent Kickstarter-funded film called Island Soldier documents the sacrifice that many islanders make. It’s an issue that Civil Beat’s Chad Blair wrote about recently in his series about the causes and consequences of the Micronesian diaspora.

He reported that the Oregon Legislative Assembly unanimously approved a House concurrent resolution in May that expresses support and gratitude to immigrants from Micronesia who live in the U.S. and recognizes them for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces “at a higher per capita rate” than U.S. citizens.

“We express our deepest appreciation for their extraordinary commitment to the service and defense of our nation,” the resolution states.

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