Tens of thousands of military service members attempting to vote by absentee ballot in recent years haven’t had their votes counted because of various problems with the system, according to authorities that track voter participation. The Military Voter Protection Project, an organization founded by a Navy Reserve member who previously was a Justice Department lawyer, is promoting efforts to ensure that the votes of all military members are counted. “The problem has always existed, given the high degree of mobility of our fighting forces,” said Eric Eversole, founder and executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. But the issue is a bigger concern during a presidential election year with a military force totaling more than 3 million, including active-duty and reserve forces.
In 2010, of the approximately 2 million military and overseas voters accounted for in data reported by the states to the Election Assistance Commission, only 4.6 percent of those voters were able to cast an absentee ballot that counted, according to the Military Voter Protection Project’s analysis of that data from the federal Election Assistance Commission, which tracks participation in voting. That compared with 5.5 percent in 2006, which was also a midterm election, the organization concluded. The overall national voter participation rate for the 2010 election was 41.6 percent, authorities said.