Thousands of military personnel may not get to vote in the presidential election because ballots have been delayed in reaching military voters stationed overseas, according to Republican lawmakers angry over what they call a “serious failure” of the Dept. of Defense to safeguard the voting rights of the military.
Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX) said thousands of military voters could be disenfranchised as a result of the DoD’s failure to modernize its system of getting ballots to troops.
“DoD’s failure to fix this longstanding problem means that the blank ballots of thousands of overseas service members, as well as some who have recently returned from overseas, could be currently trapped in an archaic and inefficient mail forwarding system,” Cornyn wrote in a letter to Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta. “These ballots are unlikely to reach these service members until after Election Day has passed.”
Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John McCain (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Cornyn in raising the issue. The lawmakers believe the impacts could be especially widespread this year – due to troop movements out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program said in a statement they are researching the matter.
“FVAP is completely nonpartisan and works to ensure that service members are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to do so — from anywhere in the world,” FVAP Acting Director Pam Mitchell told Fox News.
Several families of service members serving overseas – and in the United States – contacted Fox News to express their concerns about voting problems.
Vickie Freel said her son, who is stationed at Pearl Harbor, never received his absentee ballot.
“I am so frustrated and angry about this,” Freel told Fox News. “There is something very wrong when anyone in our military is not afforded the same rights as the average citizen.”
Michael Boynton’s son is serving in the U.S. Army — in A fghanistan.
“He said they gave out the ballots and before they could do anything — like mark them, they were ordered to return them,” Boynton told Fox News. “He said they were told the ballots were incorrect — but they were never given the so-called corrected ballots.”
That was five weeks ago — and as of today those soldiers have not been given new ballots, he said.
Boynton said his son, who is in the Army, had a chance to look at the disputed ballots and they seemed correct.
He said it’s an outrage that his son and other members of the military may not be able to vote.
“As a parent I find this appalling and unconstitutional,” he said. “Not to allow our men and women who are putting their lives in danger on a daily basis to vote?”
Boynton placed the blame on the Obama Administration.
“Our troops do not believe President Obama is a strong commander or leader,” he said.
Even more disappointing for the proud military father — the 2012 presidential election would have been a landmark moment in his 21-year-old son’s life.
“This would have been the first time for our son to have voted,” Boynton said.
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