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Military anguishes over missing ballots

Posted By Jon Dougherty On 11/14/2000 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

As the historic and unprecedented presidential election drama that began
Nov. 7 continues to play itself out in Florida, military personnel and
other Americans living abroad who list Florida as their state of
residence increasingly see their voices as not only relevant, but very
likely the decisive factor in determining the next president.

Many overseas military personnel, however, continue to say they have
been “cheated” out of their vote — due to their absentee ballots either
arriving late or never arriving at all.

WorldNetDaily has received an enormous amount of e-mail from military
families overseas, or their stateside relatives, complaining that the
service personnel did not receive absentee ballots they had requested. A
number of WND’s military readers have specifically reported that their
ballots were sent fourth class “bulk mail” — which in some cases delays
delivery by a month or more — instead of first class.

In fact, one former U.S. Navy officer who served as the postal officer
aboard two warships — and who asked not to be identified for this report
— said, “If military units are missing ballots or absentee voting
supplies, it is because they were mailed bulk mail.”

As the postal officer, he said he could attest to the fact that “the
[military postal] system in place for military mail movement is
excellent and, in many cases, it took longer to move mail from the
military mail hub in New York City to Virginia than it took to move mail
from [warships] in remote areas to the U.S.”

The now-retired officer said overseas military mail traveling in
fourth-class bulk is put in containers at fleet post office centers in
New York City and elsewhere that have “to be filled before they are
sealed and shipped. These can be containers that travel … literally [on]
slow boats to the U.S. or overseas destinations,” the officer said.

A reader in Heidelberg, Germany, who is married to a U.S. Army colonel,
had applied for absentee ballots “by the end of September.” Yet by Oct.
24, they still had not arrived, so she called her county clerk in the
U.S. to see if they had been sent out.

According to the reader, she was told the ballots had been sent Oct. 19,
but “by the 28th we still didn’t have [them].”

With time growing short, she then went to the Army post office and asked
if the clerk there knew anything about the couple’s ballots.

“The soldier went to look and came back with them,” the reader told
WorldNetDaily. “She said that she had found them in bulk mail, which is
where the magazines and newspapers are kept. Our magazines and newspaper
are always months late, as the post office is understaffed.”

“Absentee ballot envelopes were clearly marked as such and should not
have been filed in bulk mail,” she said. “They were small enough to fit
into our post office box and should have been placed with our letters
and bills.”

She and her husband filled out the ballots and mailed them the next day,
“return receipt requested,” she said.

“Today is Nov. 11 and we have yet to receive the return receipt,” she
said, “so I do not know if our ballots arrived” in the U.S.

“I have talked to several persons over here, both military and civilian,
who were having a hard time receiving their absentee ballots,” she
added. “Several soldiers who work at Campbell Barracks have not received
their absentee ballots.”

“I am wondering why nothing was done to let anyone know where their
ballots were and if they were placed there [in bulk mail] on purpose,”
she said.

While most of the affected military personnel are understandably
outraged at their ballots allegedly being sent by the “slow boat,” some
critics see a motive at work — a tactic by a Democrat administration
designed to deny servicemen and women their right to vote, since it is
widely assumed based on past elections that most overseas military votes
will end up in the Republican column. Although there is no proof of
anything of the sort, the idea seems logical enough to servicemen who
feel they have been devalued for the last eight years.

In fact, some American military families in Germany are reportedly
flying the American flag upside down — a traditional sign of distress —
at their places of residence, as a result of the presidential election
and the subsequent balloting difficulties. In some cases, local military
police have forced personnel to take the inverted flags down.

Meanwhile, Oregonian Judy Krutsinger tells WorldNetDaily that her
brother-in-law, stationed on board the USS Tarawa near Yemen, reports
that “thousands” of ballots are still sitting in mailbags aboard a U.S.
Navy warship. He says they were never picked up, though mail recently
has been delivered to the same warship.

Krutsinger alleges that the Pentagon had contacted Florida election
officials to inform them that mail from all area warships had been
picked up Nov. 7, but that her relative aboard the Tarawa denies that.

“We e-mailed [our relative] aboard ship about that. … [H]e e-mailed back
saying [the mailbags] are still onboard,” Krutsinger told WorldNetDaily.
She said the mail was contained in orange bags on 17 pallets and that
“ballots were not separated from regular mail, as they should have
been.”

WorldNetDaily attempted to contact the Pentagon and Florida election
officials regarding her claims but had received no response by press
time.

Krutsinger — who said e-mail aboard the Tarawa has since been “shut
down” — told WND that she had been in contact with the Bush campaign,
who in turn contacted the Florida secretary of state’s office about the
matter. However, she couldn’t say what Bush campaign officials had done
with the information or whether the secretary of state’s staff was
acting on the matter.

WorldNetDaily was unable to obtain comment on the allegation from the
Bush campaign.


Related stories:


Military missing absentee ballots


Bacon denies WND military-ballot report


Will Congress probe military-ballot snafu?


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