The Military Election fraud
Let’s talk about military election fraud. With all of the talk of disenfranchisement in the past elections, read Robert Freer’s article to see a real shameful disenfranchisement.
Let Their Voices be Heard
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
The history of the United States offers a map for democracy’s often slow, often emotionally explosive progress towards citizen enfranchisement consistent with the broad declarations of our Constitution. In the two hundred eighteen years since its birth, our republic has confronted slavery’s transgressions against human rights, embraced women’s suffrage, and exposed the cruel violence of Jim Crow. In addition, our democratic process has survived the impeachment of two presidents and the disputed Presidential elections of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and George W. Bush in 2000. Perhaps it is because of our democracy’s history of increasing inclusiveness that citizens feel generally self-assured about the accuracy of our polling system. Yet, in our pride of accomplishment, we overlook the shabby story of how we treat those who have sacrificed most t keep us free.
In 2004, approximately 25% of overseas citizens and military personnel who tried to vote were unable to do so because they received their absentee ballots too late or not at all, and while recent complaints about naturalized citizens’ voting rights have incited the United States Department of Justice to sue the city of Boston, our soldiers in Iraq have to cope with antiquated state laws that all but make it impossible for most of them to reflect their will at the ballot box back home. Ironically, while Iraqis raise violet-stained fingers to establish legitimacy and solidarity in their burgeoning democracy, the soldiers who have fought to bring them that right stand unable to effectively vote back home. It is high time to re-evaluate the electoral process that we champion and do what is necessary to turn it into the global model that it should be. The Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, led by former President Jimmy Carter, recently suggested voting reforms including provisions for centralized ballot processing stations, but otherwise offered rather tame modifications like making sure that absentee ballots are mailed out 45 days in advance of an election and requiring that defense officials provide postcard applications to troops during federal election years. That simply is not good enough.
Currently, there are 7,838 local election offices—this means 7,838 County Clerks, County Auditors, County Boards of Elections, County Election Supervisors, etcetera—that administer absentee voting for Federal elections. Aware of this bureaucratic labyrinth, Congress recommended that the processing of military and overseas absentee ballots be centralized for every state, but no states have implemented that recommendation. Only Alaska and the District of Columbia conduct absentee voting on a centralized basis. The military voter in the global War on Terror seldom stays in one place long enough for normal postal and certification procedures to coincide with local franchise requirements.
How are the thousands of local election offices supposed to coordinate the back and forth of paper ballots with individual servicemen when the federal government can’t accurately predict whether they will be in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Fort Bragg in the months before an election? Instead of obsessing about postage and airmail, we need to move our global electoral system into the global electronic age. The military transmits classified information electronically, and every day businesses safely conduct major financial transactions electronically. If such networks are protected enough for national secrets and corporate fortunes, then there should be a way for deployed military personnel to vote by secure electronic means. The men and women of our armed services sacrifice for us everyday. 2,000 of them have now paid the ultimate price to protect us in Iraq. We must assure that each of them enjoys the fundamental right that is the basis of our democracy.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr. is President of The Free Enterprise Foundation. He is a Visiting Professor, at The Citadel and elected in 2005 to be their first John S. Grinalds Leader in Residence. A regular contributor to the Mercury, He can be reached by E-mail at The Citadel . Copies of his earlier columns can be found The Free Enterprise Foundation.
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