The men and women fighting for our freedom deserve to have their voices heard and their votes counted.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
The men and women fighting for our freedom deserve to have their voices heard and their votes counted. That is why the Senate recently approved a package of bills designed to guarantee the voting rights for those serving in the military or living overseas.
Bills in the package would allow U.S. military personnel stationed outside the continental United States to receive an electronic ballot that can be downloaded, filled out, and mailed back to the clerk. Many military personnel are unable to return ballots in time when serving in places like Iraq or Afghanistan.
As a retired U.S. Army colonel, I know how important it is that we help ensure that our soldiers overseas are able to participate in the democratic process they are serving to protect.
In 2006 an estimated 1 million ballots were issued for military and overseas voters but only a third were returned, since many of those voters faced procedural hurdles and tight deadlines to have their votes counted in a timely fashion.
According to a national report issued in 2009 by the Pew Center on the States, based in Washington, D.C., the average completion rate for an overseas Michigan ballot is 57 days.
My measure, Senate Bill 1096, would help ensure that those serving in the military overseas have an opportunity to take part in the electoral process by requiring ballots to be delivered to the county clerk at least 47 days before an election.
I urge the House of Representatives to act quickly on these important measures, because the votes of the brave individuals serving in our Armed Forces are just as important as those of citizens living stateside.
SB 1096 is currently before the House of Representatives for further consideration.