ibnlive » World

Oct 29, 2008 at 02:33pm IST

US soldiers risk lives, but votes go futile

Washington D.C Many troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan may lose their voice in this election. They risk their lives and yet their vote for America’s president often does not count. Technicalities are threatening to disqualify up to half their ballots.

Rodriguez works for the US elections assistance commission, a non-partisan group-in the last general election as best she can determine only about 30 per cent of overseas military ballots were actually returned and counted.

“It's disenfranchising our military and frankly I think it's very unpatriotic,” says Lt Melissa Cox Bosse.

One reason so many military votes are not counted every state has its own rules for absentee voting and they can change in the middle of an election cycle.

For example in Virginia, a federal write-in ballot required a witness' signature and address but, for soldiers overseas that proved confusing. Because there is no "box" provided for a "witness address."

“The fairfax county, virginia registrar initially said he would have to discard 63 votes because voters neglected to list a "witness address",” says Rokey Suleman.

“These ballots that aren’t' being met I can't accept as valid ballots at this point. If the law changes I welcome a review of the law. I think the law is horrible,” adds Rokey Suleman.

Later on Monday, Virginia’s attorney general agreed saying all county registrars can now ignore that part of the law. A bigger problem now is the US mail.

It may be able to deliver your mail through rain, sleet and snow--but, not a battlefield. Congressman Kevin McCarthy says absentee ballots mailed from war zones are not getting to county registrars fast enough to be legally counted.

“With all the modernization that we have we should be able to move these ballots, track them at the same time. That we have today to make sure our heroes across this world get treated fairly,” says Kevin McCarthy.

Congressman McCarthy of California says he's pushing a bill through congress that will address these issues, but, it'll be too late for election 2008. He suspects more than half of our troops voting absentee will be voting in vain.