Will military ballot access impact key Congressional races?

posted at 8:15 pm on August 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Control of the House, and possibly the Senate, could come down to tough races in states like Wisconsin, Colorado, Washington, and Florida.  In close races, absentee and military ballots can play a large role in determining the winners.  However, some states may not get the ballots to military voters and their families in time to be counted despite the passage of legislation that require states to have a 45-day window on ballot delivery, as Fox News reported early today:

Sens. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Michael Bennet of Colorado are just two incumbents locked in tight re-election races in states where local officials have warned they will likely not be able to ship out generalelection ballots to overseas military voters by the Sept. 18 deadline.

Both Democrats’ race are listed as “toss-ups” by RealClearPolitics.com, and military ballots could make the difference.

But Wisconsin and Colorado are among 10 states where local officials say they may not be able to comply with Move Act provisions that call for ballots to be mailed out at least 45 days before the 2010 midterm election.

Fox News has identified four states — Wisconsin, Colorado, Maryland and Washington — where races may hinge on those absentee ballots and on whether their delivery works as intended on behalf of the fighting men and women abroad.

In a later development, the Department of Defense denied Move Act waivers to four states:

Four states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands were denied requests on Friday to ignore a new federal law meant to protect the voting rights of deployed troops and other Americans overseas, while five states were granted the waiver.

Not getting the waiver calls into question how the affected states — Wisconsin, Hawaii, Alaska and Colorado — will comply with deadlines for counting all votes cast for the Nov. 2 election by members of the military and other Americans living overseas.

The specific issue for the states applying for waivers was their primary date.  Some of them simply moved the primary, including Minnesota and Vermont, from mid-September to mid-August in order to have ballots ready for the 45-day window. Maryland determined that the state could produce the ballots and send them out within the 45-day window without changing primary dates and withdrew its request for the waiver.  Colorado and Washington moved their primaries but kept their request for waivers.

Wisconsin refused to change dates, saying that they could comply either way, although they still asked for the waiver.  Massachusetts did the same, as did Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island.  It’s not clear how these latter states won the waiver while Wisconsin and the others got denials instead; all of them hold their primaries on the same day (September 14th).

It’s also unclear how the states will remediate the situation.  They can extend the time to accept the military ballots, and some have already done that, as Fox reports further.  Wisconsin and Colorado still will have less time than 45 days for military voters to return ballots even with the extension already planned.  One expert contacted by Fox suggested that the situation may not be a big problem, as states could deliver ballots by e-mail to the soldiers for printing and completing by hand.

How big of an impact might this have?  Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics reminds us of how close things got in previous elections:

“Russ Feingold’s election in 1998 was decided by fewer than 40,000 votes. This time around, our polls are showing him leading by one (percentage) point or maybe down by one point,” said Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics.com. “So there is a chance that the 15,000 or so overseas military ballots could be what decides that election, if it ends up within 1,000 votes, which is entirely possible.”

At this point, the Move Act seems a little toothless.  None of the reports indicates what kind of penalties states face for noncompliance.  The military voters are the only ones penalized, it seems, by a failure of states to prepare better for their elections and their men and women serving in the armed forces.


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It isn’t so much getting the ballots out and back as it is getting the states to stop trying to find some way to not count the ballots that are returned.

(i.e. no postmarked date)

Skandia Recluse on August 27, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Oddly in 1996 my state got me an absentee allot well before the Novermber Elections. And I wasnt in the military but at school overseas. But I had requested one when I left the states.

Interestingly I also got a bundle from the state democratic party of all their candidates who were running as well as a campaign literature from the Clintons. And not one thing from the state GOP. Made me wonder why that happened ?

William Amos on August 27, 2010 at 8:21 PM

I heard on Fox that a higher percentage of military voters are disenfranchised nowadays than Blacks have been since they were given the right to vote.

itsnotaboutme on August 27, 2010 at 8:23 PM

I cannot speak for other states, but the Dem machine in Washington state has a history of vote fraud. I expect this kind of maneuvering to avoid having thousands of potentially GOP votes from entering our election. Patty Murray is facing a stiff battle for Senator and the Dems will pull every dirty trick to ensure that this dim but loyal bulb remains in the Senate.

iconoclast on August 27, 2010 at 8:23 PM

This topic is near & dear to my heart, because my very first chance to vote at age 18 was as a GI serving overseas, & I voted for Ronald Reagan over Jimmuh Cahtuh.

itsnotaboutme on August 27, 2010 at 8:25 PM

I’ve voted absentee from overseas a few times. I submit that any pol that denies one valid ballot ought to lose his hand at the wrist via KaBar. And then we should start getting mean.

ted c on August 27, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Decocrat strategy in 2010: keep the troops from voting for Republicans.

jerseyman on August 27, 2010 at 8:29 PM

Not doing everything possible to make sure our soldiers get to vote is a disgrace. Makes me boil.

wheelgun on August 27, 2010 at 8:30 PM

The reason given fro the primary date move in Washington was expressly to allow more time to get the ballots to the troops, yet Washington still wanted a waiver? Why? They just added 30 days to the election cycle and still can’t make the 45 day requirement? How incompetent are they?

SouthernRoots on August 27, 2010 at 8:31 PM

There are no military votes f the machines rig them so as to insure they are not counted.

JIMV on August 27, 2010 at 8:33 PM

I cannot speak for other states, but the Dem machine in Washington state has a history of vote fraud. I expect this kind of maneuvering to avoid having thousands of potentially GOP votes from entering our election. Patty Murray is facing a stiff battle for Senator and the Dems will pull every dirty trick to ensure that this dim but loyal bulb remains in the Senate.

iconoclast on August 27, 2010 at 8:23 PM

It won’t be pretty here if Dino loses by a few (think dozens) votes again. Especially when they violated the recount rules. “Just keep counting until you get the Dem result.”

WitchDoctor on August 27, 2010 at 8:35 PM

This is b.s.
If you owed those states any money they would mail you something in 45 minutes.
All I ask is that we can all vote with the same efficiency and security that I can buy a Powerball ticket with.
Any state lottery anywhere can tell you the exact moment and location you played a number and can track millions of bets with 100% accuracy and your ticket is your receipt.
The fact the military just doesn’t hold their own election and just give the results to each state on the next day is a disgrace.

NeoKong on August 27, 2010 at 8:36 PM

For the first time in my adult life, I am ashamed of my country. This is shameful treatment of our soldiers who are putting their lives on the line. We are violating their right to vote. I swear this better be taken care of by the next election!

lovingmyUSA on August 27, 2010 at 8:38 PM

There is this new invention called a computer, might they consider putting that to use. I hear it can be very fast.

Cindy Munford on August 27, 2010 at 8:39 PM

This was brought up recently on the WA primary race post/thread. WA is pushing electronic ballots. Don’t know the percentage; locals will. My hubby votes in WA. He received info last week which email address he’d like to use for his ballot along with questions about his military status. At least WA is trying to remedy the situation. That doesn’t mean that certain candidates won’t pull any shenanigans in Nov. I hope Rossi is ready to fight this time.

conservative pilgrim on August 27, 2010 at 8:42 PM

It won’t be pretty here if Dino loses by a few (think dozens) votes again. Especially when they violated the recount rules. “Just keep counting until you get the Dem result.”

WitchDoctor on August 27, 2010 at 8:35 PM

It won’t matter. Conservatives will just roll over for any outrage perpetrated by the leftists. Apathy and outright cowardice are the lefties best allies in the GOP and conservative circles.

iconoclast on August 27, 2010 at 8:43 PM

So our troops are dying to bring the free vote to others and we can’t get their votes delivered….

KZnextzone on August 27, 2010 at 8:46 PM

More wood for the fire.

Republicans should make it an issue … “So chicken are the Democrats of losing – and so UN-Democratic is their party – not to mention HIGHLY UN-PATRIOTIC – that many Democratic controlled states refuse to make it a priority to get voting ballots to our heros fighting for THEIR freedom overseas”

Easy peasy.

If they think they can pull another Florida 2000 – they’re dreaming.

And by the way – so is the NRSC if it thinks it can pull the same in Alaska.

HondaV65 on August 27, 2010 at 8:46 PM

The military voters are the only ones penalized, it seems, by a failure of states to prepare better for their elections and their men and women serving in the armed forces.

Don’t worry as illegal aliens will vote in their place. They are God’s children too. I think that’s what McCain said anyway. So don’t worry about it.

Tav on August 27, 2010 at 8:46 PM

It won’t matter. Conservatives will just roll over for any outrage perpetrated by the leftists. Apathy and outright cowardice are the lefties best allies in the GOP and conservative circles.

iconoclast on August 27, 2010 at 8:43 PM

You got that right, My friend.

darwin-t on August 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM

So, folks talk about “supporting the troops” all the time. Here’s an idea: fix this.
As a soldier, I don’t want your praises. I don’t want your pity or for you to call us all “heroes”. We’re not. Sure, if you see a Medal of Honor winner, then you’ve met a hero. When you meet someone who has stared down the enemy, killed him, then drug his wounded buddy to safety at the risk of his own life, then sure, call him a hero. For just showing up in uniform? Not so much.
What I would like is for folks to stop acting like weak little pansies and start acting like Americans. One way to start is holding the government accountable to the Constitution we’ve sworn to defend. If you haven’t read it, then read it, then hold our leaders accountable. How do you hold them accountable? Well, it sure as hell means doing more than just making phone calls and writing letters. No, I’m not talking armed revolt. I’m talking visits to the offices of elected officials. Stand there in their offices until they fix this. Stop voting for individuals merely because they have an “R” or “D” next to their names. Vote for folks who will actually ensure the Constitution is honored, even if they aren’t from one of these two parties. The American Revolution was fought for much less. The least you could do is this. If this doesn’t work, then, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it…

Send_Me on August 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM

It isn’t so much getting the ballots out and back as it is getting the states to stop trying to find some way to not count the ballots that are returned.

(i.e. no postmarked date)

Skandia Recluse on August 27, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Exactly.

listens2glenn on August 27, 2010 at 8:50 PM

None of the reports indicates what kind of penalties states face for noncompliance.

Sounds to me like some “Registrar of Voters” should be facing FEDERAL PRISON TIME for failure to comply.

Bet that would speed up the process.

GarandFan on August 27, 2010 at 8:51 PM

Trying to make it tougher for military members to vote…you know, the men and women who are trying to protect our ability to actually be able to vote.

And, then there is this. Trying to extend the vote to non-citzen residents…immigrants…non-citizens.

What next?

Grant the franchise to illegals?

I’d bet that if illegals would be granted the Right to vote, all those naysayers who tell us there is no way to figure out who is illegal and how many would suddenly come up with precise numbers in every voting district in the Nation…as the SEIU and comrades go out and register each and every one of them.

But, GI’s? Marines? Sailors? Airmen?

Not all that important, since waivers are going to become more commonplace especially if the Dems lose a chunk of seats and it is found that military absentee voting carried the tide in any district.

coldwarrior on August 27, 2010 at 8:51 PM

Shame on anyone who denies the right to vote to those who protect that right with their blood.

publiuspen on August 27, 2010 at 8:53 PM

i call bull shit ! If it was welfare checks you would see how fast they would be mailed!!! WTF!!!!!

sonnyspats1 on August 27, 2010 at 9:01 PM

This would be entirely a different situation if military voters were all voting democratic.

Why doesn’t the military take the initiative to use the resources that they have to improve mail delivery both ways during the election season?

slickwillie2001 on August 27, 2010 at 9:04 PM

The military voters are the only ones penalized, it seems, by a failure of states to prepare better for their elections and their men and women serving in the armed forces.

Travesty!

Illegals, corpses and prisoners have more voting rights.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2010 at 9:04 PM

coax mo frackers across the border and get them to vote, but the fellas dodging IEDs and eating MREs can’t send theirs through the mail.

Disenfranchisement. Criminal

ted c on August 27, 2010 at 9:05 PM

It’s kind of late to be reporting on this isn’t it Ed. Dang if there was more notice we could have made some noise about this and kicked their azz’s in gear!!!

sonnyspats1 on August 27, 2010 at 9:08 PM

Send_Me on August 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM

You sir, are awesome. To bad many people here and around the US vote for the “Lesser Evil” (Juan McCain). Get rid of ‘em all.

Vote out every single career politician.

MadDogF on August 27, 2010 at 9:11 PM

What next cut funding and under supply our troops to dangerous low levels. Maybe we can ban the use of lead for bullets.

sonnyspats1 on August 27, 2010 at 9:11 PM

It isn’t so much getting the ballots out and back as it is getting the states to stop trying to find some way to not count the ballots that are returned.

(i.e. no postmarked date)

Skandia Recluse on August 27, 2010 at 8:20 PM

The reason there is no postmark is one is not required if you are in the field when you mail it. I knew guys that were so cheap they saved all their mail for whenever they were in the field, then gave it to the first sergeant or chaplain to mail. No stamp required!

patch on August 27, 2010 at 9:13 PM

We’ve known the date of this upcoming general election for at least 100 years. How hard was it to plan the primaries around the fixed date?
No waiver.

MayBee on August 27, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Colons and molars can be impacted, Ed… few other things can.

/sorry – pet peeve

greggriffith on August 27, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Kind of sad that an entire voting bloc, who may be affected most by our national general election results, seem to be utterly at the mercy of those politicians who can control their vote being counted or not.

Big John on August 27, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Send_Me on August 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM


Well said my friend. I salute you!
23 year disabled Army Retiree

jackal40 on August 27, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Wow, vote rigging is getting so complicated these days.

boomer on August 27, 2010 at 10:24 PM

What is the punishment or result of a State not complying with the Move Act? Is the election invalidated, officials jailed, or do those votes just not count? Seems to me there should be an effective determent to prevent this. But what do I know.

jackal40 on August 27, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Thank you, Democrats for your latest ploy to steal elections…

DL13 on August 27, 2010 at 10:32 PM

I have trouble deciding if this is a straw-man issue or not. I’ve been voting from overseas off and on for 40 years, including while in the military, and including when it was all handled by snail mail. We have the best military in the world; the best military ever; the best educated military ever. That doesn’t square with all this hand-wringing that’s going on. I haven’t been in the military for a couple decades, but a lot of this sounds pretty condescending to me. Our troops are better and smarter than that.

If it really is an issue, simply contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program:

http://www.fvap.gov/

ss396 on August 27, 2010 at 10:33 PM

n the 2008 general election, of the roughly 10,000 ballots sent to members of the military and overseas voters claiming Wisconsin as their home state, 28 percent were not returned. Of that ones that were, only 4 percent were not counted because of errors.

Not right. The primary needs to be changed Wisconsin, it is that simple. Do it.

OT- Drudge has in his 3rd column news out of Houston about a fire at a warehouse containing all of Harris county’s election computers. It sounds like the computers/voting machines are a loss. Fire Marshall’s are investigating cause of the fire.

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 27, 2010 at 10:58 PM

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7173960.html

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 27, 2010 at 11:02 PM

Massachusetts did the same, as did Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island. It’s not clear how these latter states won the waiver while Wisconsin and the others got denials instead; all of them hold their primaries on the same day (September 14th).

Simple; those other states don’t have razor-tight Senate/congressoinal races like Wisconsin.

Bonus item – Wisconsin’s proposed “solution” was to automatically register to vote anybody who received a driver’s license, but not move the primary off the 2nd Tuesday in September date.

steveegg on August 27, 2010 at 11:49 PM

We can put a man on the moon, but can’t figure out how to get our miltary’s votes back in time?

This is madness and I don’t buy it for a minute. It’s the left’s way to drag their feet and toy with elections.

disa on August 27, 2010 at 11:57 PM

Seems to me there are a few regulations that the federal government should enact, and that would be that every state has to set their election systems so as not to disenfranchise their military residents.

disa on August 27, 2010 at 11:58 PM

Send_Me on August 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM

OK, good challenge. I’m in for WA. I think it is our Secretary of State who is in charge of this. I’ll start mailing tomorrow and calling on Monday. Maybe a facebook page to gather a group to do just what you suggested.

iconoclast on August 28, 2010 at 2:38 AM

News flash: The military isn’t composed of Republicans. While we tend to be more conservative than the general population on some issues, there are people of all political stripes in the service.

Funny thing though – liberals in the military make far better arguments for their cause than do 1/2 the leftwing talking heads on TV.

darkpixel on August 28, 2010 at 7:40 AM

If it was not for our Military and the veterans of the Military, we would not have the right to vote along with other freedoms that we now enjoy. To deny the right to vote for our troops serving overseas shows just how far our Country has deteriorated. Voter fraud is nothing new to the democrat party. Does the name Al Franken ring a bell? They kept counting and counting until the vote came out in his favor.

flintstone on August 28, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Our oldest son is proudly serving in Afghanistan, as a MEDEVAC crew and that Red Cross and white background is a really great target.

His training certainly has kept him safe, and above all his training has taught him that part of responsibility as a G.I. is that VOTING is why he wears the uniform – to protect every one of U.S. so we can VOTE.

MSGTAS on August 28, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Iconoclast… Email me at admin@shorelinecaucus.com . I’m loaded for bear!

valentine on August 28, 2010 at 11:16 AM

I had a 25 year Navy career and I voted absentee in at least every national election and many times, in the state and local elections. I would be shocked if any of my votes were counted. Nothing ticked me off more than when the Democrats, during the 2000 Presidential election crisis, looked for any reason not to count the absentee ballots.

NavyMustang on August 28, 2010 at 5:09 PM

The military voters are the only ones penalized, it seems, by a failure of states to prepare better for their elections and their men and women serving in the armed forces.

If the military vote was largely Democrat they’d be protecting their voters, where are the Republicans?

RJL on August 28, 2010 at 5:16 PM

I sent a care package (fifteen pounds of cookie bars, and books) to my brother in desert storm by first class mail, and received a thank you letter back, in less that fifteen days.

What is the problem?

Slowburn on August 28, 2010 at 8:02 PM

I retired in Hawaii after spending 25 years defending liberals to be stupid. Now our eldest son is in Afghanistan and he joined the military in Hawaii after graduation from UH using ROTC to finance his way through school.

Another means to disenfranchise the value of the military. Especially, when they provide safety and security to citizens and visitors during primary natural

MSGTAS on August 30, 2010 at 10:24 AM