(Posted on behalf of some Virginia activists who appreciate that those who serve deserve the right to vote)
For all the attention paid to the recent voting in Iraq and Afghanistan, one would think that the process for getting absentee ballots to our own service men and women should be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s a rather convoluted process and easy to miss the deadlines – especially if you’re deployed in a war zone.
For service personnel who claim residence in Virginia and New Jersey, this is a pressing issue, as the deadlines for requesting ballots for the statewide elections this November are fast approaching. A couple of organizations in Virginia, the Dominion Leadership Trust and ProjectVirginia are working to publicize how service men and women can vote in these two states’ 2009 elections.
The important first step of this process is to alert military personnel that they are eligible to vote absentee and give them the information to navigate the process for requesting a ballot. While both of these organizations are supporting Republican candidates, the information they are providing is a non-partisan step-by-step guide to navigating the process. They are simply asking everyone who knows someone in the military or a military family to email them this information – a small request to support our men and women in uniform. You can use the links below:
New Jersey: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote-nj
The voting difficulties faced by deployed military personnel are not new – and cut across federal, state and local elections. As Peter Roff of US News & World Report wrote in May 2009, the PEW Center on the States found that only 26 percent of the absentee ballots requested by military personnel were ever actually counted in 2006. The widespread difficulties with military absentee voting in 2008 led Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mark Beigich (D-AK) to sponsor a bipartisan bill, the Military Voting Protection Act and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to sponsor the bill in the House, earlier this year. While this legislation is a worthwhile effort, it is aimed at 2010 – so the rest of us need to step up just a little in 2009 and help spread the word to the troops and their families today.