Skip to comments.Disenfranchised Defenders: Avoiding a Repeat of 2000
Posted on 08/19/2004 6:57:57 AM PDT by SmithPatterson
Disenfranchised Defenders Avoiding a repeat of 2000.
On November 19, 2000, we discovered that there are no limits to what Democrats will do to win an election. The same Democrats who so often and so loudly protest any real or imagined threat to a minority's right to vote had desperately worked to disenfranchise a minority group thought to be friendly to the other side.
With the presidential election hanging by a loose chad in Palm Beach County, Florida, Dems launched their campaign to disenfranchise military absentee voters. The memo instructing Democratic election canvassers on the best means to do so authored by lawyer Mark Herron fell into the hands of a Republican worker, and the Drudge Report promptly published it.
The Herron memo stated postmark and "point of origin" criteria Herron maintained could be used to invalidate military ballots. Conveniently, the memo attached a form that could be duplicated and used to protest the validity of individual ballots. By the time the Herron memo made headlines, the Dems were challenging more than 1,500 absentee ballots (which grew to more than 2,400) mostly from soldiers overseas. This was almost three times the number of votes 537 that proved to be Bush's margin of victory. Had the Herron scam succeeded, and protests against those votes been sustained, Al Gore would be in the White House today.
This problem is not unique to Florida, and it didn't just happen in 2000. According to the results of a survey by the Reserve Officers' Association, ROA estimates that the disenfranchisement rate among military personnel who try to vote in Florida, Missouri, and South Carolina is 40-45 percent.
It's not the hypocrisy of what the Florida Dems did that still rankles; what's most bothersome is who they tried to do it to. Every American has the right to vote, but were it not for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who put themselves in harm's way, none of us would have that right. The warriors and their families have long memories, and this time they're determined to vote.
For once, at the insistence of Don Rumsfeld, the folks in Fort Fumble are acting, not reacting, to solve this problem before it repeats itself.
On March 17, Rumsfeld sent a memo to the Joint Chiefs and Combatant Commanders telling them how the services will make sure all military members and their family members who are overseas, or stationed here but are away from home, get the chance to vote, and vote so that no Mark Herrons can disenfranchise them.
At the heart of Rumsfeld's plan is putting some teeth into the old Voting Assistance Officer idea. On top of it is a strategy now underway to use both the internet and the Postal Service effectively to help servicemen and their families request absentee ballots and get them returned in time to be counted. Last Friday, I spoke to Charlie Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness. He's the guy who's leading the charge to protect the rights of military voters and their families.
Abell told me that this is a very high priority for DoD, because it's a very high priority for the troops and their families, who have a much higher voter turnout proportionally than the general population. He said, "We know from sampling from the Federal Election Commission [and other sources] that in year 2000, about 51 percent of the general public voted. We know from our surveys that about 75 percent of the worldwide uniformed services military...voted." Over the years, the DoD data show unsurprisingly that those who fight for the right to vote take that right more seriously than other Americans.
About 200,000 military personnel who tried to vote in 1988 didn't because they didn't get their absentee ballots at all, or got them too late to send them back in. Now absentee ballots will be separated from regular mail and sent both ways to the soldier, and back to be counted faster than the normal military mail. According to Abell, the Postal Service has agreed to pick up ballots directly from the local precincts and ballot offices, separate them into special containers, and send them by Priority Mail to the absentee military members. Return mail will work the same way. In the 2000 election, many military absentee ballots were disallowed because they lacked postmarks, which aren't a requirement. Now, to make sure there's no repeat of this chicanery, military postal workers are being ordered to hand-cancel every ballot that is sent out to show clearly when it was mailed. Sorry, Mr. Herron: You'll have to think up another scam this time.
Rumsfeld's initiative is trying to reach all 1.4 million active-duty members as well as 1.3 million military family members, the majority of whom are living away from home, either overseas or stateside. And this initiative is serious: Every military unit, small or large, has a Voting Assistance Officer whose job it is to let the soldiers know how they can get their absentee ballots, and then help them do so. Abell told me that the goal was for the ratio to be one Voting Assistance Officer for every unit of 25 to 50 people.
The plan's niftiest aspect is the use of the internet to enable soldiers to request absentee ballots and then to download the actual ballot to fill out and send in. Right now, any soldier or family member can download the Federal Post Card Application from the government website designed to help all overseas voters and send it in. Better still, the Defense Department is getting all the state-ballot request forms and the ballots themselves loaded onto the system. Most of the states are cooperating by allowing internet and even faxed ballot requests.
Rumsfeld's memo says, "I want to ensure each service member is handed the Federal Post Card Application and is offered assistance in completing the form if needed." Voting Assistance Officers will help fill out the request forms and when soldiers ask help them properly fill out and mail back the actual ballots. Rumsfeld has tasked the commanders to designate October 11-15 as Absentee Voting Week. If the ballots are mailed by October 15, they'll all be where they need to be in time to be counted. And that is the ultimate goal.
That goal will conflict directly with the coming repeats of the Herron Florida scam. If you think the Dems won't attack military absentee ballots in 2004, think again. Military voters are more Republican than Democrat, and much more conservative than liberal. The Dems know that, and I don't doubt that they will do this year what they tried to do in 2000.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!" But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot; An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please; An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool you bet that Tommy sees! And Tommy votes, God bless him. Each and every one of us has a duty to help him do it. Let's get the word out.
NRO contributor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe are Worse than You Think.
The democrat party establishment has become amoral - their power is everything, regardless of how they get it. IMHO, we can lay the blame for this at the feet of the Clintons. Prior to them, there was a semblance of morality and love of country in the democrat party. Sadly, this no longer is true.
The left has decided the actual democracy doesn't work and is intending to "make every vote count" if only the can regain power. This election is critically important.
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