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January 13, 2005

Military balloting and the WA Governor's Election

Yesterday on this blog, I debunked several allegations being tossed about by Sound Politics blog regarding the handling of military ballots by King County in the Washington State Governor's Race.

In my pursuit of those efforts, I've discovered that the more I dig on this issue, the more questions surface.

One of the main allegations perpetuated by Sound Politics is that King County disenfranchised voters by not mailing military ballots out on time. That allegation was soundly debunked earlier today.

Earlier this afternoon, I had the honor of speaking with Lt. Colonel Steve Boylan (I really hope I'm spelling that correctly) from the Coalition Press Information Center located in Baghdad, Iraq.

Lt. Colonel Boylan informed me that if a service person serving outside the United States didn't recieve a ballot on time from the place where they're registered, they can still vote. In that case, they may use a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. Lt. Colonel Boylan also informed me that those ballots were in ample supply. State and local races can be voted using those ballots as well. Those ballots are also available online.

Lt. Col. Boylan also told me some other interesting facts. Beginning in what he believed was "early Summer", the US military conducted a major voter education drive.

Each military unit was provided a voting representative. The representative was sometimes an officer and sometimes noncommissioned personnel. This voting rep was trained and provided materials to assist military persons with voting. This training and materials included information on how to register to vote, obtain absentee ballots, filling out all of the necessary paperwork properly, etc.

According to Lt. Col. Boyland, every individual was made aware of deadlines for the various states. In addition, the military postal service ensured ballots were expedited to the best of their ability. In other words, any time they could ship them out, they did, unless there was something else that needed to be on the truck that was absolutely more necessary.

In fact, there's a whole website dedicated to military absentee voting. (Thanks, Kev)

I'm expecting a call back tomorrow from the Army Media Relations Office to further verify Lt. Col. Boyland's information.

Also, this story in today's Stars and Stripes indicated that the US military has found no evidence of problems with overseas military absentee ballots.

This opinion piece by Captain Samuel Wright of the USNR, says some military absentee ballots weren't counted. I've yet to call and verify Captain Wright's assertions (see what I mean by more questions surfacing..the more I dig?). But until there is actual evidence that there was an effort to disenfranchise the miltary vote, it flat didn't happen.

I also put in a call to Rossi's campaign office. They claim in Stars and Stripes to have a big list of complaints from people who say they didn't get their ballots, although not all are military. I left my name and phone number with Rossi's office...and their spokesperson, Mary Lane, is supposed to call me back. Cross your fingers.

It is unfortunate that some votes might not count due to arriving late, if that is indeed the case. But those are the rules. And from what I can tell, every effort was made both by the counties and by the military to get that to happen.

Posted by Carla at January 13, 2005 03:35 PM