End the Military Voting Scandal

American citizens are privileged to participate in governing their nation by means of their vote. For a number of reasons, normally fewer than 50% vote in any given election. More and more instances of voter fraud have been uncovered in recent elections. Absentee ballots are available for those unable to vote in person on the designated day of election. Those in the military away from home are supposed to receive their ballots with ample time to complete them and send them home for processing. However, the military vote has been discarded or invalidated all too often in recent elections, thus disenfranchising those who protect this country and its way of life.

This may be an opportunity to reengineer the election process using this abused subset of voters to prove the merits of a better scheme of voting.

Voter fraud exists and is more prevalent than most Americans understand. Fraud can occur at any phase of the election process, each contributing to an invalid result. ACORN's voter subsidiary Project Vote employed the Cloward-Piven strategy to overwhelm, paralyze, and discredit the voting system. Fraud in voter registration has been most visible since most prosecuted cases have spotlighted bogus registrations and organized efforts to overwhelm voting boards. The 1993 Motor Voter Act was enacted to increase voter rolls, but its input was based on flawed, inaccurate, and out-of-date data. The Department of Justice was tasked to validate the accuracy and integrity of the voter rolls, but they have been unwilling and unable to fulfill their duties. Many states have not updated their voter rolls in years. Once invalid registrations are accepted, ineligible voters (non-citizens, unregistered, multi-voters, etc.) cast invalid ballots that corrupt election results. Normal machine errors such as mechanical malfunctions occur every election and are handled as exceptions. Some ballots are lost inadvertently or otherwise, or are uncovered only during dubious manual recounts, casting further doubt on the results. History has shown us that voter fraud cases usually involve increasing Democrat votes or disenfranchising Republican voters.

It is particularly egregious for our country to ask the military to put their lives at risk and then not guarantee that their votes will be counted. The military is posted a long way from the United States in both urban and rural locations. The 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act was designed to increase enfranchisement of overseas and military voters and provided for a 45-day window for the ballot round-trip. MOVE also required voter registration and absentee ballot applications, as well as General Election information, to be available electronically. It is no secret that members of the military services vote heavily Republican. In 2006, only about one third who requested absentee ballots had their votes cast or counted. Now we hear that several states, including New York and Illinois, even after receiving waivers from the MOVE Act, have failed to mail their ballots in sufficient time for the November election. Instead of correcting their bureaucratic error by extending the deadline for receiving ballots, these states decided to effectively disenfranchise thousands of voters. Since absentee ballots are subject to the delays of mail delivery, the extent of this damage is not uncovered until long after the election is over and enthusiasm has waned. This disregard for our military is a national travesty.  

Instead of wringing our hands for another election cycle, we have an opportunity to test a solution to this problem with a manageable subset of voters: the military. Considering our sad history even if the pilot is less than optimal, military ballots are many times not counted anyway! Since the MOVE Act requires voter registration and absentee ballots available electronically, why not extend this system to allow voting itself electronically without requiring the use of the postal system? Individuals trust their personal financial fortunes to electronic banks and ATMs, so why not implement a similar approach to voting with a PIN (personal identification number) to protect the individual voter and printed record of individual votes. This pilot would cover less than 1% of eligible voters. Participation can be made voluntary to transition from the current to the future electronic system. Once proven, this electronic approach can be used for all absentee voters and even extended to all voters in all states to replace the miscellaneous voting machines that have been introduced across the country. Imagine the day when voting can be done from the comfort of your home, office, or remote station. Each citizen will be enabled to cast his or her vote that is protected by the PIN. The added benefit is that electronic voting would deliver instantaneous, accurate results without any manual tampering, and all absentee ballots would finally be counted.

Let's try to run this pilot for the 2012 national election. As a pilot, it will not be perfect, but we can learn from the test. And the military may get the idea that their vote, and not just their blood, is important.

David Coughlin authors a political website entitled Return to Common Sense.