With last week’s Republican National Convention in Florida and now the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, the election season is hitting the home stretch. The next two months will bring a frenzy of activity as candidates at the federal, state and local levels make their pitch to voters.
During this time, let’s keep the challenges of military voting in mind. Historically, men and women in uniform are among the least likely to be able to cast a vote that’s counted, due to far-flung deployments, mailing delays and absentee ballot snafus. It’s an issue we’ve written on several times to draw attention to this national disgrace.
Our friends at Military Voters Protection (MVP) Project have been doing great work advocating on behalf of military voters. Last week, they issued a new report on military voting trends suggesting that military voter turnout will be “bleak” in 2012, based upon numbers of absentee ballots requested in key states:
Take, for example, the low number of absentee ballots that have been requested thus far in Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. Of the 126,251 active duty military members and spouses in Virginia, only 1,746 have requested absentee ballots for the November election. Similarly, in North Carolina and Ohio, less than 2,000 absentee military ballots have been requested by military members and their spouses in those states. Overall, in these three states, less than 2 percent of eligible military voters (5,411 out of 288,961) have requested absentee ballots.
Data from other states, while not as extreme, still raises signiﬁcant concerns. !e 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 (roughly, two-thirds) will need to vote by absentee ballot.
The report is a great source of information on challenges to military voting, and it includes recommendations for how to improve the process. Give it a look.
Meanwhile, mark your calendars for Saturday, September 15, which the MVP Project has designated as National Military Voter Readiness Day to raise awareness of military voting and of looming deadlines for absentee ballots. You can find out more about requesting absentee ballots here.
Kate Pomeroy serves as Communications Director for the Concerned Veterans for America team.