The number of absentee ballots requested by military members and their spouses in some of the nation’s most important swing states -- like Virginia, Ohio, and Florida -- is down considerably from 2008, and President Barack Obama’s administration’s failure to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which Obama signed into law in 2009, may be partly to blame.
A new study by The Military Voter Protection Project (MVP) found the number of absentee ballots in Virginia and Ohio has dropped 70 percent since 2008.
As of September 22, there were 12,292 absentee ballots requested in Virginia by military overseas; in 2008, there were 41,762 requests. In Ohio, 9,707 absentee ballots had been requested by September 22; in 2012, there were 32,334 requests.
In Florida and North Carolina, 121,395 and 19,109 absentee ballots, respectively, were requested by military voters in 2008; as of September 22, there have been 65,173 and 7,848 requests, respectively.
Eric Eversole, the executive director of MVP, said the these numbers are “shockingly low.”
“While we knew the number of absentee ballots requests would increase as we got closer to the election—and they have—the number being requested is still way too low and indicates that many military members will have their voices silenced on Election Day,” Eversole said.
These concerns of military disfranchisement have not been taken up by progressives, who have halted the enforcement of several states' voter ID laws over fears of vote suppression.
The MOVE Act requires state and local election officials to send absentee military ballots on September 22nd, but nearly half of overseas military bases overseas lack offices where troops can register to vote.
According to the MVP study, the Pentagon and the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) failed to comply with the MOVE Act by providing registration offices on every military base to make it easier for military members to vote. The Department of Defense’s Inspector General confirmed these findings in a report.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said in a statement that this was an “an unacceptable failure by Pentagon leaders to comply with the law and ensure our service members and their families are able to exercise one of the most fundamental rights for which they sacrifice every day.”
Eversole said he is encouraging “every active duty military member or spouse” to visit www.heroesvote.org, where they can quickly register and request an absentee ballot and receive the ballot in 7-10 days.
“Notwithstanding the data, we have not given up and will keep fighting for our military voters,” Eversole said. “The registration deadlines are quickly approaching, but there is still time to fix this mess.”