Our Disenfranchised Troops Deserve Better


The next president of the United States must do right by our men and women in uniform. Our troops put their lives on the line to protect our right to vote, but untold thousands of them were unable to cast their own ballots on Tuesday. For shame.

Veterans groups and soldiers advocates have warned about military disenfranchisement for years. M. Eric Eversole, director of the Military Voter Protection (MVP) Project and a former litigation attorney in the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, reported that “more than 17,000 military and overseas voters were disenfranchised in 2008 because their ballots arrived after the deadline and had to be rejected.”

That doesn’t include the thousands more whose ballots never arrived or arrived at their bases too close to the election to be returned. The total number of troops affected this year could be more than double or triple that because of the relocation of nearly 70,000 military personnel out of Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year.

More alarming, the feds acknowledged last week that a transport plane that crashed at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan on Oct. 19 was carrying 4,700 pounds of mail — including an unknown number of absentee ballots.

Experts agree that a minimum 45-day mailing standard is needed to provide soldiers overseas sufficient time to get their ballots home. But the feds have done virtually nothing to ensure that laggard states comply with military voter protection statutes. In fact, the Obama administration has actively worked against pro-troop voting protection efforts by suing to stop Ohio’s military enfranchisement reforms.

Moreover, according to a report by the Military Voter Protection Project released on Election Eve, the number of absentee ballot requests by both military members and other overseas voters in the battleground states of Virginia and Ohio has dropped 70 percent since 2008. Despite a federal law mandating that every base establish a voting assistance office (the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act), the Pentagon reported this summer that it could only contact such offices on half of the military’s bases.

In Wisconsin alone this election cycle, at least 30 municipalities failed to send absentee ballots to members of the military before the 45-day election deadline.

On Monday, GOP Sens. John Cornyn, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Rob Portman and Marco Rubio raised the issue with President Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The group noted that the DoD’s Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) had documented widespread problems experienced by overseas military voters during the last midterm elections, but that the department had taken no steps to make mail streamlining and modernization changes recommended in 2010.

The most simple, efficient fix involves a centralized mail forwarding system for blank absentee ballots to accommodate transient servicemen and servicewomen. The U.S. Postal System already has a similar system in place for civilian use.

“We are perplexed as to why DoD did not do everything in its power to modernize the system for redirecting blank ballots in order to eliminate this roadblock for military service members,” the senators told Panetta. Perplexed? Try steamed. Outraged. Livid. “Our men and women in uniform should be able to participate in the very same democratic system of government that they defend, not be relegated to mere spectator status because their ballot never reached them.”

The profligate Obama administration — which squandered trillions of taxpayer dollars on a failed stimulus law, billions on dozens of now-bankrupt green boondoggles, billions to the Muslim Brotherhood-coddling government of Egypt, and multimillions on the first lady’s junkets in Spain and around the world — has the audacity to blame funding woes for its neglect of military enfranchisement reform. A White House less focused on revenge and redistribution would put the rights of those who secure our blessings of liberty first. They deserve nothing less.

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  • Mary Sue

    I think this is disgusting about the whole absentee ballot thing, but I think there's a larger problem here. Absentee and early ballots don't seem to even be considered (if what I heard on Sun News is any indication) until AFTER the live votes are cast. I think they should be counted beforehand or at least at the same time as the live ballots, so that their vote matters.

    Figures that the situation would arise to disenfranchise the military, considering the number of Republicans in there. However, I have to wonder where in the electoral college these votes even go. To their hometowns?

  • BLJ

    These are the people who will be needed to keep the Chosen One from turning America into a Soviet style state. Oh, and the rest of us who own guns (legally) as well.

  • JCS

    Don't forget that we are always told how much democrats love and support our soldiers. Ha!
    My dad was in the army in France in the fall of 1944. He got his ballot a month after the election. You'd think we could do better 68 years later.

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/Platform.htm Alexander Gofen

    Our "Disenfranchised" Troops betrayed their duty to uphold the US Constitution in 2008 and now, in the 2nd time:
    http://www.resonoelusono.com/2008vs1917.htm

  • http://weroinnm.wordpress.com/ weroinnm

    Is the Obama Regime Targeting Veterans? (Part 2)
    http://teapartyorg.ning.com/profiles/blogs/is-the
    “Food For Thought”

    Semper Fi!

    Jake

  • Ghostwriter

    Yeah. They deserve better. A LOT better.

  • erica

    Of course they deserve better.
    But the majority of service members vote Republican and Obama needed less of those to retain power,so they simply “forgot” them.
    He’s going to trash their tricare,close bases and cut off all new equipment .Obama hates the military just as the Clintons do.

  • guest

    Always stand up at home for our Rempublic especially when our military are fighting for us. And even when they are fighting and dying in vain.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com adinakutnicki

    FEW say it better than Malkin, and her words cut to the core.

    And an Islamist/Radical-in-Chief should be expected to crap upon, as well as endanger, those who stand on the front lines for everyone's liberties, even those who demonstrate disdain for America's ethos! Ain't that a kick in the teeth.
    http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/08/09/barack-hussei

    WAY past time to take by America!

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel -www.adinakutnicki.com

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  • mom

    you know I think it is quite interesting that we can have early voting 2-4 weeks early voting and our miltary cannot vote early
    what does that say??