Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
A sailor aboard the assault ship USS Tarawa has said the Navy’s claim
that only a half dozen ballots were contained in a number of mailbags
recently retrieved from the ship and flown to the U.S. from the Middle
East is incorrect.
According to Judy Krutsinger, whose brother-in-law is aboard the
Tarawa and had contacted her about the numerical discrepancy, “basically
he is stating that the Navy’s statement about the number of ballots is
In an e-mail, Krutsinger said her brother-in-law told her, “for them
[Navy officials] to say there were only a half dozen [absentee ballots]
on the ship is just wrong.”
After passing that information to Krutsinger, she in turn contacted her sailor brother-in-law, who responded late Thursday evening.
While the Navy has said only that there have been minor and periodic interruptions of mail to the Tarawa and other warships that assisted in evacuating wounded and emergency operations when the destroyer USS Cole was attacked by terrorists Oct. 12, sailors — and at least one Marine Corps officer — have told WND that the problem of mail delivery aboard the Tarawa is bad and chronic.
“It’s atrocious,” the officer said in an e-mail, noting that often the ship goes “several days without receiving mail, even in relatively ‘friendly’ areas.”
Though mail delivery seems bad enough, the Tarawa sailor also said he was aware of “several people who got their [absentee] ballot on the day they were due,” Krutsinger said. “He said the problem is widespread on [the Tarawa],” making him the second sailor — besides the Marine officer — to make that claim in a week regarding the same vessel.
Pentagon and Navy officials have repeatedly denied there is a mail delivery problem regarding the Tarawa and other warships but, instead, have said that due to operational requirements and other extenuating circumstances, mail is interrupted only infrequently and even then not for very long.
Based on conversations with other Tarawa sailors, Krutsinger said her brother-in-law told her “there were more than [just six] ballots” on the ship before Navy officials flew mail out on Wednesday, sending it to Bahrain before being flown on to the United States — hopefully in time to be counted before state absentee balloting deadlines, especially in Florida.
Other military ballot problems reported this week:
A military chaplain based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., reported problems getting his ballot. “Had my 79-year-old mother not driven the 30+ miles to the county seat and badgered the elections people, I still may not have gotten it. She overnight expressed it and then it went back overnight express to meet the deadline.” He added, “I am not the only one at Ft. Stewart who had trouble with absentee ballots.”
An Army officer stationed in Bosnia said he requested a ballot three months before the election from San Diego but, just days before the election, he received one from Key West, Fla., instead. He said he didn’t vote because he has never lived in Florida and that only about half his soldiers (about 100 out of 200) received their ballots.
An Air Force officer affiliated with that branch’s voting program said that about three weeks before the election he began receiving calls from military members “and voting officers” who complained that “many Air Force personnel had not received their ballots.” The serviceman added that “many had requested ballots in June and July of this year.” He estimated that perhaps as many as 20 percent of all military personnel may not have received ballots this year.
One Marine complained he has been overseas during the past two general elections and, though he applied through proper channels, has been “unable to vote since I’ve been on active duty.” He added: “It is ironic that the people that are actively fighting for freedom and the United States are the same people that are routinely subjected to the worst lifestyle and deprived of some of their most basic rights.”