Military absentee ballot requests plummet from 2008

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The Pentagon says the lower level of absentee registrations reflects the smaller number of U.S. troops deployed overseas compared with four years ago. Officials say they have established more than 200 special offices on bases where troops can get help.

These offices and the specially trained voting assistance officers in every unit provided advice and assistance to more than 500,000 service members in the first six months of the year, said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

Mr. Little took “strong issue” with the Military Voter Protection Project’s numbers.

“The data in that report, we believe, is quite old and doesn’t take into effect recent developments that we’ve undertaken,” he said.

Mr. Eversole defended his numbers, which he said he first compiled nationwide at the end of August and has updated for several states since.

“The newest data continues to show a significant drop-off in the number of ballots requested,” he said.

For example, during the entire 2008 election, Ohio’s military and other absentee voters requested 32,334 ballots. But only 9,707 — less than a third — had done so for the 2012 election as of Sept. 22.

The deadline in Ohio to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 3.

Part of the problem in assessing the competing claims is that it is hard to perform an “apples to apples” comparison.

As Election Day draws near, many states do not have the time or resources to parse out military voters from other absentee and overseas registrants.

Moreover, in 2008, there was no incumbent, which tends to front-load registrations as both parties’ supporters register early to vote in the primaries.

Added Mr. Little: “It’s important to remember that the number of deployed service members, especially in the war zones, has declined significantly” since 2008.

The Virginia National Guard, for instance, has all of its members home for the first time in 10 years this year.

“That assertion fails to recognize that most military members, even when they’re in the United States, have to vote absentee,” Mr. Eversole said.

He accused the military of “trying to misdirect attention from the real issue, which is they are not in compliance with federal law.”

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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