Sunday, April 27, 2008

Overseas Servicemen Face Obstacles in Casting Votes

According to, only thirteen states currently allow overseas troops to vote in presidential elections with the aid of e-mail, along with some districts in seven other states. This leaves tens of thousands of troops who must rely on conventional mail for voting. In far flung outposts that are poorly linked by road and air service, delivering ballots on time to our military personnel overseas and getting them back before local deadlines in the U.S. has often proved to be a daunting task. According to Newsmax, e-voting could help reverse recent trends in which "thousands of military members asked for ballots but either didn't vote or had their ballots rejected for flaws."
The issue of military ballots is seldom dealt with in the liberal press. According to the Newsmax article, George W. Bush's razor thin majority of 537 votes that won him his first term in office occurred in the context of several thousand military votes that arrived late. In some districts they were counted and in other districts they were excluded. A civilian who is late in returning his or her absentee ballot can be faulted for tardiness. Military personnel who are facing danger in defense of the country deserve every benefit of leniency in forgiving tardiness.
In many states, ballots are only ready thirty to forty five days before the election. Mail to some troops has a two week delivery time each way. Many soldiers miss their chance to vote with such a narrow window of opportunity. Cyber voting would extend the franchise to thousands currently in danger of exclusion. As a matter of common decency, all fifty states should streamline voting for members of our armed forces now and not after November elections.

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