Let’s Reform The Overseas Military Voting Process

This piece appeared first at Big Jolly Politics:

By Steve Parkhurst

In the weeks, months and years ahead, I think we need to take a look at some serious electoral reforms in our country. Aside from our politics on the left or the right, I think we need to focus on the way votes are cast and ballots are counted.

Of particular, urgent concern to me is the vote of our military personnel overseas. As I write this, the year is 2012. The iPad Mini was recently introduced. The iPhone5 was put out on the market earlier this year. Wi-fi is available on airplanes. A person can now create their own hotspot from their mobile device.

So, given where we are technologically, why is the voting process so cumbersome, time consuming and archaic for the troops overseas?

In late October, it was reported that a plane carrying ballots-by-mail to troops stationed overseas had crashed in Afghanistan and the ballots, along with the other mail on board, were all burned to a crisp. I’m not sure, nor am I alleging, that there were enough ballots not cast to sway any election in one direction or another. At the presidential level, this is highly unlikely. However, in races in various parts of the country that were decided by razor-thin margins, perhaps there were enough ballots that were not cast or counted by the unfortunate circumstances of a plane crash.

I come back to technology now. Most locales now vote on electronic voting machines. In Harris County (Houston), Texas over 1,000 precincts voted this November on the same electronic machines. The machines can be programmed so that each ballot in each precinct is unique to that precinct. Again, I’m sure I’m not breaking news here with this knowledge.

Why can’t our military bases have similar ballot machines, where soldiers can vote, and their ballot can be specific to their residence back home? If a soldier is from Florida, Ohio, Kansas or California, they should be able to vote on the same machine with the certainty and guarantee that their vote will be counted on election day. Just as every soldier has to use their military ID at the PX and most other places wherever they are based, that same card should be able to be swiped, the solider processed like a voter, given an electronic ballot appropriate for their home residence, and their ballot cast and counted immediately.

Who will champion such a reform? This issue seems like a no-brainer to me. First of all, any retired military member in any state legislature or in congress, should immediately start making inquiries and raising this issue as a point of interest. Second, every Republican in those same governing bodies should start to seek answers and start advocating on behalf of the soldiers overseas.

As I write this, a little over a week after the most recent national election, I’m wondering how many soldiers did not get to cast a ballot in the election. I’m further wondering how many soldiers might have voted, but their ballots still sit in a mail house somewhere between their base and an American sorting center.

We know the Left will attempt to suppress the military vote at every turn. Our side has proven time and time again that we stand by the troops at every turn. While this should be an “American” issue that both sides can embrace, we know better. We know the Left will stonewall here, so let’s challenge them.

Our troops are typically, always in harms way. Having these fights within various legislative bodies is worth the effort, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do for those who are fighting real fights.


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