October 14th, 2008
This article was first published on Washington Times.
American soldiers can hump 60-pound packs through the broiling desert, kill for their country and die for it, but they can’t always vote for their commander in chief.
A solution has long been proposed: Just get rid of the byzantine process which forces those in far-flung battle zones to vote by mail that must be delivered to thousands of local election districts across the United States.
But the Pentagon has found that bringing military voting into the 21st century is not so simple.
The number of absentee military ballots applied for that ultimately get counted is consistently low. In the last federal election, only about 30 percent of overseas military ballots were tallied, according to data from the federal Election Assistance Commission, which monitors election problems, and the Pew Center on the States.
Change won’t come in time for the November presidential election, when record numbers of voters are expected to decide between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. For soldiers, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The winner may well decide how long they stay in battle, and how soon they come home.