It seems counterintuitive that those men and women risking their lives to protect our essential freedoms and rights—among them the right to vote—are often disenfranchised when they do not have the opportunity to make their voices heard on Election Day.
At the most recent Bloggers’ Briefing, representatives from Military Voting Rights USA discussed the Military Voting Protection Act sponsored by Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Dan Oren (D-OK), along with 32 other House co-sponsors, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), along with 25 Senate co-sponsors.
Twenty-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jessie Jane Duff explained that the current absentee voting system for military personnel leads to massive disenfranchisement because of the long delays in overseas mail. It can take up to three weeks for ballots mailed from combat zones in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to arrive back in the states. The Military Voting Protection Act will replace this three-week mark with the opportunity for soldiers’ ballots to be sent home from overseas military bases using Express Mail in as little as four days. She explained that, “There is no reason military voters should not be able to cast their vote on the Friday before the election and know that it will be counted on Tuesday.”
As data for the 2008 election is not yet available, Ed Fitzmaurice, former U.S. Marine Corps pilot, looked to the Election Assistance Commission to point out that in the 2006 election, 990,000 military and overseas absentee ballots were requested. However, more than 660,000 did not reach election officials and, of those that did, another 10 percent were received too late to be counted.