Samuel F. Wright

Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
Director, Service Members Law Center
(800) 809-9448, ext. 730
Email: swright@roa.org
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Law Review 1183

LAW REVIEW 1183

October 2011

Military Voting in 2011 Elections

By Captain Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)

7.0—Military Voting Rights

Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia will hold important state elections on November 8, 2011, and many cities (including Houston) will hold important municipal elections.  New York will hold a state election on November 11 and Louisiana on November 19.  If you are from one of these jurisdictions, you should vote this fall, even if military service has taken you far away from your home.  If you have not already applied for your absentee ballot, do so today.

Go to www.fvap.gov.  You can utilize the well-designed on-line wizard to complete your absentee ballot application.  Depending on your home state, you may be able to submit the application electronically.  Time is of the essence.

For those readers not currently on active duty, please contact your local election official to monitor the timely mailing of absentee ballots this year and every year.  We want to ensure that military personnel have a reasonable opportunity to cast ballots that really do get counted, no matter where the service of our country has taken them.

In most states, the local election official is also an elected official, like the County Clerk.  If you contact the local election official on behalf of overseas military voters, he or she will almost certainly listen to your presentation and will likely be positively affected thereby.

There is another way that you can serve the election process this year and every year.  Local election officials are always seeking qualified persons to serve as precinct election officials.  The pay is meager, and it is a long day, but this is an important way to serve our democracy.  New technology has been applied to the voting and vote-counting processes in recent years, and we need new election officials who are comfortable with this technology.

In most states, there is an “absentee voting precinct” to review and count ballots that come in by mail, including ballots from military personnel and family members.  I would really appreciate it if you could arrange to serve as an election official counting absentee ballots, and if you could let me hear about your experiences.  I predict that you will be shocked at the high percentage of military absentee ballots that are rejected for various technical reasons.