Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Few states allow overseas troops to vote by e-mail

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Pentagon officials have been urging more states to move into the electronic age before November, a move that could help reverse recent trends in which thousands of military members asked for ballots but either didn't vote or had their ballots rejected for flaws.

The push comes more than seven years after problems with overseas military voting set off an uproar in President Bush's narrow 2000 victory. In Florida, where Bush squeaked out a 537-vote victory that gave him the presidency, questions were raised about several thousand overseas military votes that came in after deadlines and were counted in some districts but not counted in others.

This year, when war is a key campaign issue, the election results in any state - particularly one with heavy military voting - could turn on the votes of thousands of troops on the front lines.

"The personnel that fight our wars, the people who are most affected by the decisions on the use of the military, are being systematically denied the right to vote," said Bob Carey, a board member of the Overseas Vote Foundation, a voting rights group. "I find that pretty tough to swallow. If a president decides to deploy military troops somewhere, it's these troops that are going to go."