Weekly House Update for Congressman Roy Blunt
The week of July 14 – July 18
SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS RIGHT TO VOTE
By Cong. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
The cornerstone of any functioning democracy is the right to vote. Each United States citizens has this fundamental right to have their voice heard through our democratic process. 2008 is unlike any other year with each vote holding extra weight for what could be one the closest and most important and general election in the last thirty years.
The right to participate in the democratic process should available to all U.S. citizens. Unfortunately our troops and their families serving overseas often find barriers preventing them from casting their vote.
This is why last week I introduced a resolution, H. Con. Res. 388, expressing the sense of Congress that the Department of Defense and the Federal Voting Assistance Program take additional steps to ensure that members of the Armed Forces and their families have ample information on registering to vote and voting in the 2008 general elections.
The right to vote is one of the most vital and inalienable rights in our great nation. For our Armed Forces, however, carrying out that right is often marred in bureaucratic hurdles and complications. A recent study by the Election Assistance Commission found that merely seventeen percent of the six million citizens under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act participated in the 2006 general election.
Due to their unique situation our troops deserve equal access to voting that those of us living here at home have. The fact that the Department of Defense found that only forty four percent of members of the Armed Forces even received voting information from the military is a grave sign that something must be done.
Armed Forces serve to protect the very right we as Americans will exercise this November and to not ensure the same access is provided to our troops overseas would be irresponsible.
My hope is that my resolution will help address these problems and ignite new policies within the Department of Defense to enable troop’s voting rights. The Department of Defense must attempt to communicate with all eligible members of the Armed Forces and their dependents. My solution would be electronic reminders of the voter registration and absentee ballot process. This would create another line of communication along with paper copies that could provide all the necessary information on voting overseas.
Along with establishing clear communication and education to soldiers about voting overseas I’m calling on the Department of Defense to report on the progress in ensuring that all members of the Armed Forces and their dependents have the opportunity to vote.
Troops deserve the right to be fully involved in the voting process regardless of where they’re stationed. This resolution I hope will level the playing field and allow our men and women serving overseas along with their families the same opportunity to vote that ever American here at home enjoys.