Opinion: Support effort to make soldier’s ballots count

Opinion: Support effort to make soldier’s ballots count

Bill Ketron

There comes a time when one has to speak his or her mind and that time has come for me.

I recently learned of a bill that is being presented in Congress called the Military Voting Protection Act. It is HR 5673, introduced by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

This bill would require the Pentagon to collect absentee ballots overseas and deliver them stateside by express air transport. This would shorten the delivery times for overseas ballots from three weeks to only four days. More importantly, it would mean that thousands of military ballots rejected in 2004 would be counted in 2008.

A recent survey by the Election Assistance Commission revealed that of the almost one million ballots requested in the last election by overseas and military voters, only about one-third were successfully cast and counted. Most of the votes that were disqualified were stricken because the requested ballots sent to military voters were returned as
“undeliverable” or because the mailed ballots were received by the local Election Commissions too late for them to be counted.

The National Association of Secretaries of State, composed of both Democrat and Republican secretaries of state from across the U.S., has endorsed the Military Voting Protection Act.

Currently House and Senate Democratic Party leaders are blocking the act from moving to a vote.

As chairman of the Senate State & Local Government Committee in the Tennessee General Assembly, which oversees all election laws, I have worked with this bi-partisan committee to ensure that every registered voter vote is counted in Tennessee and those not registered are not counted. We work to ensure that all voting laws are fair and never
disenfranchising.

There are currently 41 co-sponsors of HR 5673. Only one Democrat, Congressman Dan Boren, D-Okla., has signed on. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has joined as a co-sponsor.

We currently have men and women in uniform serving their country to protect our freedoms and the American way of life. Some will even shed their blood or, worse, give their life for us as we speak.

Here is where you can make a difference. You have friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances. Please ask them to call, e-mail or fax their congressmen and senators in every state in which they live.

As we approach the most important presidential election of your lifetime, please give our military the right for their vote to be counted this November. Please ask your congressmen to vote for the Military Voting Protection Act HR 5673.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is the floor leader of the Tennessee State Senate.

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