(Bumped up from last week.)

I saw the following story this morning on the news, and was pretty surprised by it: One-Fourth of Overseas Votes Go Uncounted, Study Finds. Some of you may recall that John McCain asked for an extension to count votes in VA for absentee ballots requested by military personnel that were delayed in being set out. That was back in November.

Well, a new study has just come out from the US Senate, and you are not going to believe this. This is certainly timely given our conversations regarding our votes being counted, continuing tonight at 9:00pm (EST). Get this:

One out of every four ballots requested by military personnel and other Americans living overseas for the 2008 election may have gone uncounted, according to findings being released at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said the study, while providing only a snapshot of voting patterns, “is enough to show that the balloting process for service members is clearly in need of an overhaul.”


Uh, ya THINK, Chuck?? No freakin’ kidding! These people put their lives on the line, and then one of their most basic right as Americans, the right to have vote and have it counted is treated so cavalierly? Yeah, I think that warrants an “overhaul.” SO astute.

There’s more:

The committee, working with the Congressional Research Service, surveyed election offices in seven states with high numbers of military personnel: California, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

It said that of 441,000 absentee ballots requested by eligible voters living abroad — mainly active-duty and reserve troops — (emphasis mine)more than 98,000 were “lost” ballots that were mailed out but never received by election officials. Taking into account 13,500 ballots that were rejected for such reasons as a missing signature or failure to notarize, one-quarter of those requesting a ballot were disenfranchised.

The study found that an additional 11,000 ballots were returned as undeliverable.

Holy smokes. Twenty-five percent of the votes cast were not counted. I’m still trying to get my head around that, especially in light of the clear intention TO vote as expressed here:

Schumer’s office said that because a person living abroad must request the absentee ballot and show a clear intention to vote, voter negligence is not thought to be a major factor.

Rather, the New York Democrat said in a statement, there is a chronic problem of military voters being sent a ballot without sufficient time to complete it and send it back. He cited estimates that a ballot can take up to 13 days to reach an overseas voter.

Among the states surveyed, California had 30,000 “lost” votes out of 103,000 ballots mailed out. An additional 3,000 ballots were returned as undeliverable and 4,000 were rejected.

And that is exactly the issue McCain was trying to address in VA, where it was CLEAR that the fault lay with those responsible for mailing out the ballots. They failed to do so in a timely manner, especially considering the length of time it takes for the ballots to be received overseas.

So, what is the plan to correct this unacceptable situation? Well, this:

The hearing was to take up possible problems in the Federal Voting Assistance Program, a Pentagon program that handles the election process for military personnel and other overseas voters.

Oh, whew. I feel better now. That should take care of it, right? Ahem.

This just boggles my mind. Come to think of it, this isn’t just unacceptable, it is a breach of trust with those who are serving in our military abroad. They should be able to know that if they ask for an absentee ballot, they will receive it in a timely fashion. And, they should be able to know that their vote cast is a vote counted. We all should be able to trust that. Clearly, not only can those serving and living abroad not be able to trust in that, even when they do all that is required of them to cast that vote, but we cannot either. Not now, not with electronic voting machines, and not with rampant voter fraud. Something has to change, and it has to change now. At the very, very least, we all, every American, should be able to know with CERTAINTY that the vote we cast is counted, first of all, but counted correctly, second of all. And those who put their lives on the line for us deserve that at the very least.

Twenty five percent. 25%. One-fourth, 1/4th, of the votes not counted. Simply unacceptable.

  • AnninCA

    Please forgive me for butting in. I’m amazed after the extraordinarily personal banning email that I find I can still post here. Whatever.

    Larry, the only reason I EVER chech in is for your posts.

    I am waiting on pins and needles about Obama’s decision on Plame.

    I do so hope you’re over there concentrating. 🙂

  • BettsAZ

    This was a problem during the 2004 elections,as well. You’d think they’d figure it out by now!

  • bone

    Wouldn’t have made any difference.

    Boring post! Re-living the election for some kind of self gratification is a waste of time.

    The entire election process needs to be fixed. It must be easier to register and vote, as far too many people in this country do not vote.

    • Texas-Ben

      Well bone,

      Thanks for writing off all those votes as not making any difference, maybe we’ll not count yours next time. It’s OK for ACORN breaking election laws so folks have the ability to vote more than once, busing people across state lines to vote again and intimidating voters (not only caucus voters) but counting the votes of our military is not that important. This whole system is fatally flawed.

      I see NO reason why furnishing a picture ID should not be required, none. How many elections does it take to see that the military vote is never counted correctly?

      Everything is upside down, what is wrong is allowed and what should occur is written of as “not important”.

      It is time for REAL change, not the smoke and mirrors change that brand Obama promised. The only change I see right now is that the dollar is about to become worthless and inflation is going to raise its head and impose the biggest tax of all on everyone and the folks who can aford it the least will be hurt the most.

      • Diana

        It is time for REAL change, not the smoke and mirrors change that brand Obama promised. The only change I see right now is that the dollar is about to become worthless and inflation is going to raise its head and impose the biggest tax of all on everyone and the folks who can aford it the least will be hurt the most.

        That’s who always gets hurt the most with these taxes from both sides. They made all these promises about these high cigarette taxes they imposed here in CA. People fell for it without one thought for who they’d really be hurting. Children. The poor.

        The only thing I’ve seen done with that billions of dollars they’ve gotten is a few Truth commercials on MTV. That were totally stupid. They haven’t gotten teens to quit trying. Where is the rest of that money and the promises? We pay more per student than almost any other state, yet we’re 47th on the list. Our children are not getting an education. Now they want more money? Why? So we can be last, 47th isn’t good enough?

        I’ve seen welfare moms selling their food stamps to buy cigarettes. I see it at the beginning to the middle of every month depending on which grocery store I go to. I’ve brought a few people a carton of cigarettes and told them keep those food stamps for who they’re intended for, your children. The poor are always the ones that are the most hurt.

        Now they want to do the same to them again, and have. Plus, now the federal government wants in on the action. Not only in cigarettes(Which is a bad example, it’s just one I’ve witnessed.), but everything else.

        5 dollars may not be much to some, but to some it’s all they have. Which is why I keep saying you can only do it for so long before you can expect another French Revolution to come along. People are getting to the point they have nothing left to give. Those who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it.

    • Diana L. C.

      Geez–I didn’t find it so hard to register to vote. What, do most people have such low intelligence that they can’t figure it out? That’s just a stupid argument.

      I’ve been registered since I first was old enough to vote. I’ve moved around many times, and I always found it to be a pretty easy thing to do. My feeling is that if it’s so hard for a person to figure out this easy process, that person should probably not be voting as he/she doesn’t have a clue.

  • arran

    Amy, with the high number of military service people here in NC, it’s highly likely that 0 didn’t win here (by 14,177 votes) if that high a number of ballots weren’t counted. Many troops are deployed from here and wouldn’t be in residence to verify anything on their ballot.

    • Exactly, arran. And VA was mighty close, to, as I recall.

      And James, you are right – I did not serve (could not serve – I’ve had crappy knees since I was in jr. high school). But I have lots of family who HAVE served, and I care that their votes are being treated with such callous disregard.

      The local issue was the very one McCain was addressing in VA since a number of counties were so late in sending out the ballots to members of the military…The time issue is a part of that, too,

  • OMG

    He did not win anything ever.

  • OMG

    That’s 1,650,000 uncounted votes not counting the military.

  • Diana

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention Amy. This is very disturbing considering the fact that aside from our military, according to the to the State Dept. there are 6.6 million Americans living or working abroad. That is a lot of votes that aren’t being counted. The exodus is increasing also, it’s not slowing down.

  • R3A It is only shocking to you because you never served.

    As one who did serve I will tell you that it very hard for service members to get their ballets in time. Mostly it has to do with deployment schedules and the needs of the military. It is not uncommon for forward deployed units , in my case it was a US Naval vessel, to go without mail for a considerable amount of time. (My ship was without mail for a month.)

    That and the requirements of local authorities can make participating in the franchise difficult. All branches of the service have voting assistance offices to help our service members negotiate the various hurdles that are thrown up by states and county governments but sometimes time constraints and the vagaries of the Military Mail service conspire to disenfranchise the Military voter.

    • Ani

      But certainly, the military voter is one group that must have their votes counted. It is appalling that our troops and veterans don’t get the best care and attention we have to offer, given the service and sacrifices they are making for their country.

      And thank you for your service.

  • Ani

    Great piece, Amy. Yes, it is unacceptable. It also brings another problem into sharp relief: the unfair and undemocratic nature of the caucus process.

    In addition to make sure that theirs, and every vote, is counted in the General Election, certainly if anyone has a right to have their voice heard regarding who they would like for a Presidential candidate, it should be the military, who are putting their lives on the line for their country. Caucuses disenfranchise military voters, as well as older voters, single parents, shift workers, poor voters.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Ani – I am hoping that we can move onto the Caucus issue next in our Live Chats.

      And thanks – I appreciate the support!

  • jbjd

    Another reason these military votes are not counted is that, in order to check registration, the election officials can send notices to the voting addresses listed. If these are military and, they are deployed then, these confirmation letters are often returned and the names deleted from the rolls of registered voters.

    See Congressional testimony
    http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:0-CMNZT-bgIJ:rules.senate.gov/public/index.cfm%3FFuseAction%3DFiles.View%26FileStore_id%3D617d5d65-fe7b-4bfe-93f7-705754fb0c41+military+voter+registration+confirmation+letters&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

  • Tricia Spiegel

    Unacceptable indeed!

  • John Smith

    All the elections are fixed one way or an other. Otherwise we would have a lot more choices. It seems you always get two candidates and the only difference between the two is that one is worse then the other. I just hope for this country that we will get someone into the White house in 2012 who actually cares about this countries future not if they will score political points.

    BTW, did you guys read that BO cut all funding for hydrogen powered cars?

    • Animal Control

      How about the compressed air powered car invented in France and soon to be manufactured in India. A Novel idea and it works.

    • Can you give a link about the hydrogen fuel cell cars? Thanks.

    • tminu

      HE CAN’T TAX THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE CO2!

  • this is just Wrong..every vote should be counted..

  • fif

    And who do you suppose most servicemen and women voted for–Bambi? Hardly. Many of these ballots got “lost in the mail.” All these examples of voter fraud and disenfranchisement, and it’s not front page news.

  • Animal Control

    As Jed Clampett would say: Piiiiiitifull