A 92 percent drop in absentee-ballot requests by military personnel in Virginia is raising concerns that the Pentagon is failing to carry out a federal voting law.
With only 1,746 military voters in Virginia requesting absentee ballots so far this year — out of 126,251 service members in the state —the Military Voter Protection Project says the system has broken down.
And it's not just in the Old Dominion. MVPP Executive Director Eric Eversole reports significant declines in absentee-ballot requests by service members across the nation.
Compiling data from Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Alaska, Colorado and Nevada, Eversole's organization found that military families have requested 55,510 absentee ballots so far this year. That's a sharp decline from the 166,252 sought in those states in 2008.
"We're not seeing the same level of emphasis [on military voting] that we saw four years ago," Eversole told Virginia Watchdog.
The former Navy JAG Corps officer blames "the federal bureaucracy and a little bit of stubbornness by the Department of Defense. The buck stops at the Federal Voting Assistance Program."
He cited Air Force statistics from the second quarter of 2011 showing that the branch provided voter service at only seven of its 22 installations voting assistance offices. In the third quarter, the Air Force said only five service members received assistance from the offices.
"The Air Force is not alone," Eversole said. "All of the branches provided very little voter-registration assistance."
Robert Alt, director of the rule of law program at the conservative Heritage Foundation, calls the situation "a national disgrace."
He pointed to a 2011 study of 24 states alleging that a paltry 4.6 percent of military absentee ballots that were requested and returned were actually counted in 2010.
"The military is one of the most underrepresented groups in the country. It doesn't seem like correcting this problem has been a priority for this administration," Alt said.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Is Obama Disenfranchising Military Voters?
This looks like a great way to increase his chances of carrying Virginia, a battleground state with a high military population: