One in Four Military Voters Disenfranchised

by Adam Fogel // Published May 13, 2009
New York Senator Charles Schumer released a report today showing about 25% of military and overseas voters who requested absentee ballots did not have their votes counted in the 2008 presidential election. The report is a survey of election officials in seven states with the "highest number of deployed troops" (totaling nearly 50% of active duty personnel). Per his office's press release:

Schumer said the estimate was based on figures provided to the committee by election officials in seven of the states with the highest number of deployed troops. In 2008, military personnel and some civilians hailing from these states requested 441,000 ballots in order to vote from overseas locations, as allowed by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). Of those, 98,633 were never received back by the election officials in the U.S. and so were declared "lost" ballots. Another 13,504 were received but rejected for various reasons including a missing signature or failure to notarize, as is required in some states. When combined, these two categories amount to 112,137 voters in those seven states-or 25.42% of the 441,000 who requested ballots-being disenfranchised, Schumer said.

The press release also includes this state-by-state breakdown: This report goes to the core of why we need a standardized and uniform voter registration system. Our current state-by-state patchwork increases the chance of "lost" absentee ballots and leads to citizens losing faith in the democratic process. When a member of the armed service or an American living abroad requests an absentee ballot, he or she should receive it in a timely way--regardless of what state they are voting in. A separate Pew study shows that in 25 states, overseas and military voters did not have enough time to return their ballot before Election Day. You can find more information about military and overseas voting at the Overseas Vote Foundation.