by Mark Parham
Let me open by saying, as a father of a Service member, I’m extremely ticked that my son and many along with him that requested absentee ballots did not receive them in time to be returned and counted.
This has been an issue for many years but even more prevalent since 2000. For the 2008 election, nearly sixteen percent of active duty “overseas” service personnel that requested absentee ballots did not receive them. This is according to the Defense Department’s Federal Voter Assistance Program. For the 2010 election that number rose to twenty-nine percent. That’s nearly 100,000 military members, serving overseas, many in harms way everyday that did not get ballots in 2010. Are we to think this problem was corrected before the 2012 election?
The 2012 ballots requested are less than the 2010 election when one would believe it would be just the opposite taking into account the last four years of empty chair policies and leading from behind. According to the Military Voter Protection Project, in Virginia alone, only 1,746 out of 126,251 of registered overseas military voters have requested absentee ballots. Other states are showing the same type drop in the numbers. With a military force numbering approximately 2.8 million total and active duty making up about 1.4 million of that, less than 5% had their votes counted in 2010 and it looks like that is going to be even less this election. Are there good reasons for these low numbers and who benefits?
“The problem has always existed, given the high degree of mobility of our fighting forces,” said Eric Eversole, founder and executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. But the issue is a bigger concern during a presidential election year with a military force totaling more than 3 million, including active-duty and reserve forces. In 2010, of the approximately 2 million military and overseas voters accounted for in data reported by the states to the Election Assistance Commission, only 4.6 percent of those voters were able to cast an absentee ballot that counted, according to the Military Voter Protection Project’s analysis of that data from the federal Election Assistance Commission, which tracks participation in voting. That compared with 5.5 percent in 2006, which was also a midterm election, the organization concluded.”
What are we to do to solve this serious problem? Who is it that protects and guarantees our right to vote? Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dropped the ball on his duties even after making it a big deal(smoke and mirrors). I think it should be the responsibility of our Congressmen and Senators to make it a number one priority, in the future, to see that military ballots get to every serviceman and woman that requests it. This is unacceptable and has gone on far too long to the obvious advantage of the Democratic Party.