Arlington, VA – Today, the House Armed Services Committee took a small step to confront the challenges military personnel face in obtaining or submitting an absentee ballot by conducting a hearing focused on the DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance program. Unfortunately, despite direct questions from the members, no answers were forthcoming as to why reforms mandated by Congress had not taken place.
Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret) said the following:
“I was very disappointed. There was no answer to the $64,000 question—has DoD fully implemented the reforms mandated by the 2009 MOVE Act? Even when asked directly, DoD’s representatives dodged the question.
“What we heard was the same old finger pointing that allows the military to remain the most disenfranchised voting group in the United States today.
“Our leaders in Washington face big challenges with the $16 trillion national debt, runaway spending and a struggling economy. Compared to those problems, this one should be an easy fix (to say nothing of the right thing to do). All they have to do is set up an office and add a piece of paper to the pile when a servicemember checks in. If they can’t manage to get their heads around this, what hope is there on the national debt?”
What’s the issue? Here are the numbers:
As of August 2012, a survey of several states showed that in most of the states fewer than 10 percent of military voters had requested ballots, according to a recent report from the Military Voters Protection (MVP) Project.
As of August, in Virginia and North Carolina, only 1.4 and 1.7 percent of military voters had requested ballots.
As of today, North Carolina is still behind the 2008 pace – this after four years of supposed reforms and millions of dollars spent.
A 2012 Department of Defense IG investigation was able to reach fewer than half of the voting assistance offices mandated by the MOVE Act. Congress appropriated $46 million for voting assistance activities in 2011 alone.