Military’s ballots
uncounted again?

By WND Staff


In what could be a repeat of the 2000 election, thousands of votes from U.S. troops overseas could go uncounted unless deadlines for their acceptance are extended.

That’s the warning from a Chicago election official who wrote President Bush on the matter.

“Every election cycle, election authorities such as Chicago receive military absentee ballots days or even weeks after the deadline, thus disqualifying these votes from being included in the election tally,” wrote Theresa Petrone, a Democrat on the city’s three-person Board of Election Commissioners, according to the Associated Press.

“With hundreds of thousands of military personnel serving overseas, the voting bloc obviously could determine the outcome of our next presidential election.”

Four years ago, some 30 percent of military voters who sought absentee ballots didn’t receive them in time to vote.

At the time, one Maine resident – who asked WorldNetDaily that she not be identified – said her Navy daughter who was stationed in Tokyo received her absentee ballot for every election except 2000.

“No one at the base will be voting because all the absentee ballots are missing,” she said.

The saga led WorldNetDaily to cover the issue of military voting in depth during the 2000 election cycle, and later to publish a special report on the controversy, titled “Election 2000: How the military vote was suppressed” by investigative reporter Jon Dougherty.

Petrone is now suggesting the president propose emergency legislation giving officials up to two weeks to collect and count ballots after Election Day.

While deadlines vary, most states such as Illinois say votes must be received by Election Day. Others, like Florida and Ohio, tally them for days after the race is over, as long as they were signed by Election Day, which is Nov. 2 this year.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on Petrone’s letter, saying he hadn’t seen it, and AP reports emergency legislation is unlikely before November.

Absentee ballots from the military could be a bigger factor this year than they were four years ago. In 2000, about 250,000 request forms were sent to troops overseas, while 340,000 have already been sent out for this year’s race.

Florida was the focus of the nation in 2000, as a 537-vote margin resulted in George W. Bush being elected over Al Gore.

There was outrage when it was learned some 1,400 military ballots from overseas were disqualified by some canvassing boards in the Sunshine State.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to then-Defense Secretary William Cohen, calling the dismissal of those ballots a “matter of grave concern.”

“Our service men and women around the world are protecting the very freedom that allowed our nation to proceed with the election on Nov. 7,” Warner wrote. “Yet it now appears that some of those service personnel may be denied the right to have their votes count in that election.”

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Related offer:

Election 2000: How the military vote was suppressed