Military absentee voting looks weak this year
August 29th, 2012
05:50 PM ET

Military absentee voting looks weak this year

By Jennifer Rizzo

Military requests for absentee ballots are remarkably low this year, according to a recent report from a military voting advocacy group that faults the Defense Department with not providing mandated voter assistance to service members.

"The absentee ballot data for 2012 paints a bleak picture for military voters," a report from the Military Voting Participation Project says.

In Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio less than 2% of all active-duty military members and their spouses have requested absentee ballots for the November election. And between 5% and 8% of military voters in Illinois, Colorado, Nevada and Alaska have made the request.

The report also cites less extreme examples, as in Florida where almost 16% of those eligible have requested ballots.

States profiled were those that had the most accurate and up-to-date information, according to the group.

The report estimates roughly two-thirds of all military voters would need an absentee ballot to vote because of their location at the time of the election.

"The fact is that an incredibly small percentage of military voters are requesting absentee ballots for the 2012 election, even though a majority of military members will need to vote by absentee ballot," the report states.

The group expects absentee ballot requests to increase in the coming weeks but says the "alarming and significant decrease" will make it tough to meet 2008 request levels.

"Our service members have made tremendous sacrifices especially over the last decade and they should have a reasonable and fair opportunity to have their voices heard on election day," said Eric Eversole with the Military Voter Protection Project.

In 2009, Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act to help streamline military voting.

One of the main provisions of the law was to make it easier for active-duty military to register to vote, update their voting address and request absentee ballots by adding those procedures to the check-in process when a service member reports to a new duty station, much like when a civilian goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register a change of residency.

"In other words, under the new system, military voters would receive voting assistance each time they moved to a new duty station," the report states.

This check-in procedure has not been fully implemented according to the report, which cites this failure as having a significant impact on the absentee ballot requests for military voters this year.

All voting-assistance offices were supposed to be set up by November 2010, but several were not completed until late in 2011, according to the report and the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which is responsible for administrating the new rules. Several offices also are not located in the areas where service members check in to the base - places such as the library, gym or chapel - another criticism of the report.

The Defense Department did not respond directly to these criticisms but said the Federal Voting Assistance program is committed to facilitating the absentee voting process so that all service members have the opportunity to vote.

"We make resources available to the greatest extent possible, communicating the availability of these resources via myriad media. We continually evaluate our efforts to further streamline the process," the Pentagon said in a statement.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Military
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Aaron Chaney

    Romney vs. Frankenstein (Obama)

    Put simply, better the devil you don't know. Vote Romney.

    August 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • Salute My Flag-Pole

      I'll take Frankenstein over your Golem anyday.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  2. StanCalif

    Be careful who you don't vote for! You and your squad could soon be sent into Iran! Is this what you want?

    August 30, 2012 at 6:59 am | Reply
  3. Martin

    Article fails to state what levels were for 2008 ... simply states that now is lower. Also doesn't state if "report" is according to official military voter registration programs or if it also counts those who bypass that and just sign up through the internets, as I have done. (sigh) journalism ...

    August 30, 2012 at 2:59 am | Reply
  4. sam1

    I have reviewed payroll records for US Amy Forces Command. They showed that most Forces command personnel claim Florida or Texas as their home states(no state income tax). That where they should be getting their absentee ballotts

    August 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  5. geggyg

    So if soldiers dont know their voting rights or how to access absentee ballots even though most have access to computers and the internet then then they dont deserve to vote, this is the same arguement repubs and teabaggers use to say why disadvantaged and remote citizens when they say govts shouldnt make accessing voting easier for them

    August 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  6. fire0bama

    Do not expect 0bama's DoD to help the military members to vote because 0bama knows that our military men and women do not like or support him.

    Shame on 0bama!

    August 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Reply
    • Larry L

      As a veteran of 34 years of service and many deployments I will vote for the President. As Commander-In-Chief he has used intelligence wisely, closely consulted with the Joint Chiefs, leveraged technology, and acted with decisiveness and responsibility when the mission required action. He was not like "Mr. Mission Accomplished" who started a war with falsified intelligence data, had no exit strategy, and failed to listen to his experts. The President has become the terrorist's worst nightmare – just ask those few who aren't dead yet! Don't generalize. Just because many Soldiers come from backgrounds in the very "red states" don't assume everybody wearing the uniform is an under-educated, bigoted, right-wing neo-con.

      August 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Reply
      • marinedad05

        @ Larry L,

        As a parent who lost a son, I too am going to vote for President Obama. Obama is intelligent, caring, thoughtful, and tries to accomplish as much as can, give the visceral hatred that many Conservatives have displayed for the president.

        Conservatives have questioned everything from his citizenship (birther issue), his religion, his faith, his patriotism,and even his political leanings (that he is Communist or Socialist).

        It may be red meat to many Conservatives, but most ordinary citizens, and in our military have full faith and confidence in the President.

        fireObama is a perfect example. The DoD, was given a responsibility under presidential directive. The President is NOT going to be looking into every minute detail everywhere.

        Shame on people who think the rest of the world is just plain dumb!
        .

        August 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
      • Bill in Calif

        It seems the only 'undeducated, bigoted...' is you. You are certainly welcome to your opinion but to classify everyone else with a different opinion as you have shows YOUR totally bigotry. Of course you will never see it but maybe others can learn from my words.

        August 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
      • dm nash

        Unlike our previous leader this President and his wife have offered up more support to military familes in the last 4 years than the previous 8. There are now programs to help returning vets and their wives to find work, to find assistance & counseling, necessary healthcare and most of all an "actual" focused purpose to be there – kill Bin Laden & Taliban leaders.

        August 30, 2012 at 2:10 am |
      • StanCalif

        Well said! Now, out of no where, comes Rice who swallowed all the Bush lies and gives a speech at the GOP convention! Why was Colin Powell not invited to speek? Powell was smart enough to realize he had been used to promote the Bush lies. Rice never got it!

        August 30, 2012 at 6:48 am |
      • Facepalm28

        Larry L and marinedad05, I agree fully. I see Obama's anti-terror strategies as being far more surgical, effective, and mindful of our soldiers' lives than those of GWB.

        Thank you both for the sacrifies you have made, and my condolences to marinedad.

        August 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • Guest

        @LarryL: First, thank you for your service. I do not know what that service entailed, but you have earned my thanks, even though we profoundly disagree. I too had a national security career that included the 9/11, OEF, and OIF period, as well as much service before. From your comments, I understand that your work did not grant you first-hand knowledge of the information and decision-making that guided the United States' actions after 9/11. Your allegation that "falsified intelligence data" directed our efforts is ludicrous–but then, you were not, and should not have been, privy to the intel. Clearly, your work did not allow you access to all of the counterintelligence collection on terrorists pre-op and operational plans against US bridges, dams, power plants, waterworks, tunnels, shopping centers, office buildings, assorted transportation modes, military facilities, etc..., most of which the Bush administration and our allies interrupted. Nor could you have known the very real WMD concerns related not just to stores in Iraq, but to our need to secure nuclear and chemical weapons in other countries in the days after 9/11. Nor did your work during the prior Administration allow you to see the terrorist photo chart–X'ed out one face at a time–while we captured or killed jihadis whose names you've never known. Nor were you privy to the interrogation transcripts in which KSM and company gave accounts of themselves that–I promise you–make the fictional Batman Joker seem tame. I could go on, but I don't need to. You simply were not in the places where decisions were being made. Wherever you were, again, I respect your service. Vote for whom you wish, but as prior serviceman, don't embarrass yourself by rehashing uninformed allegations about the actions of motives of the last Administration. One thing I will leave you with: When the information is declassified; when the story of the War or Terror is able to be more plainly told, history will be very kind to President George W. Bush. (And I myself was not politically a George Bush supporter. It's merely fact.)

        September 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
      • marty

        Larry – Don't assume all military personnel are as misinformed and delusional as you. Your commander in chief wanted to stay in Iraq longer but got told to leave. He is the author of useless "surge" in Afghanistan where US troops will remain in number after the "pullout" in 2014. He is destabilizing and bombing countries around the world that pose no threat to the US and putting fanatic religious Muslims in charge ( Libya, Syria, Egypt). Romney's worse. Vote Gary Johnson and bring the troops home.

        October 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • sam1

      Accordance to Chris Christie, the military should "respect not love" Obama

      August 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Reply
    • :)

      Think the troops had any love for LBJ or Nixon?

      August 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  7. Leon

    I dont vote, I care more about who my squadleader, platoon sgt, first sgt is before anything else.

    August 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Reply
    • Larry L

      Great comment Leon! I wish every politician understood the true meaning of your words. Too many of them are spoiled brats who care more about their corporate sugar-daddies than our Warriors. Wars are too easy for political weasels to start and the burden of combat tends to fall on the shoulders of our young people from working-class families. Sincere thanks from an old, retired Soldier.

      August 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Reply
    • Mitch

      Why would caring about those things keep you from voting? I don't see the logic.

      August 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
    • Thomas

      If you don't vote, you are in no position to complain.

      August 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
      • EvilWorm

        I do not like either candidate. They both reek.

        August 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

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