There are new reports that military absentee ballot requests have dropped by as much as 70 percent since the last presidential election.
Fox News reports:
Requests from military voters for absentee ballots have dropped significantly since 2008, according to newly released statistics, prompting claims that the Department of Defense is dragging its feet in enacting a law meant to boost military voting.
The drop in the battleground states of Virginia and Ohio is among the most pronounced. According to statistics released Monday by The Military Voter Protection Project, the number of absentee ballot requests by both military members and other overseas voters in the two states has dropped 70 percent since 2008.
The precipitous drop in swing states is the most concerning. In August, “military ballot requests in Virginia were down 92 percent.” While a recent push in the military-heavy Commonwealth of Virginia has improved that number, the State Board of Election reports that military voter absentee requests ended down by about 53 percent.
The drop-off in military absentee balloting is even worse in the critical swing state of Ohio. The number of military and overseas absentee ballot requests has dropped by nearly 70 percent in that critical state.
Why the huge drop-off when Congress has made concerted efforts to improve military voting? The mounting evidence is disturbing. The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act passed in 2009 mandated that military bases have voting assistance offices.
However, a Pentagon investigation in August revealed that “investigators had been unable to contact voting assistance offices on half the military's bases.” In other words, 50 percent of bases didn’t have an operating voting assistance office when federal law requires every base to have one of these offices.
Failing to have the mandated voting assistance offices operating successfully on 50 percent of bases could certainly explain why military absentee balloting is down 50 percent or more. Yet the acting director of the Pentagon’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, Pam Mitchell, doesn’t see any problem whatsoever. In response to these reports, she said, “From my perspective, voting assistance has never been better.”
While some members of the military feel they have adequately been made aware of the opportunities available to them to ensure their vote is counted, others do not.
“No one told us anything,” said Leonel Rayes, an enlisted fireman from Texas. Rayes said he was transferred to a ship that had recently returned from a deployment and he wasn't aware of what the rest of the unit had been told. “It kind of bothers me that they were supposed to tell us and they didn't.... You just guess you can't vote.”
No American soldier should ever feel like they “can’t vote” to select their Commander-in-Chief. Our men and women in uniform deserve every opportunity to vote. The military, the Administration, and America owe it to those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms, including our right to vote, to ensure that their vote is counted.