Members of the United States armed forces and their families face unique challenges to participating in our elections. If their votes are to count and their voices are to be heard, these citizens must overcome hurdles not faced by most Americans. They deserve better: the nation should make it a priority to remove barriers to political participation for those who dedicate themselves to defending our democracy.
Two aspects of the election system create problems for military voters and their families. First, many of these citizens have difficulty with voter registration: earlier this year, the recently appointed Director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program in the Department of Defense, Bob Carey, testified before the United States Senate that the registration rate for military voters is almost 20 percentage points lower than that for all Americans. Carey explained that “[t]he military voter registration process is exceptionally complex, varies in its deadlines from State to State, is tied in with the absentee ballot application process, and is subject to exceptional opportunities for errors.”