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New procedures will ensure absentee ballots count
Air Force Link ^ | August 6, 2004 | Tech. Sgt. Patrick Murphy, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Posted on 08/06/2004 3:50:16 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl

New procedures will ensure absentee ballots count


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      • Airmen Votes

by Tech. Sgt. Patrick Murphy
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

8/6/2004 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN)  -- With the 2004 elections fast approaching, the handling of absentee ballots from overseas servicemembers is undergoing intense scrutiny. Air Combat Command's 82nd Communications Support Squadron postal flight is among the many organizations working to make sure these ballots arrive in the hands of election officials in time to be counted.

ACC is the managing authority for the U.S Central Command area of responsibility, where a majority of U.S. military forces are currently deployed. The 82nd CSS here is one of three postal units within the Air Force command structure trusted with management of mail. The 2nd Air Postal Squadron located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the Pacific Air Forces Air Postal Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, are the other two.

"Military absentee ballots from overseas became a huge focal point in the 2000 presidential election," said Joseph Amaro, 82nd CSS postal operations transportation manager. "That election made us take a good, hard look at how the ballots were handled. New procedures are in place, and we believe the military overseas absentee ballots will be delivered as quickly as possible with very little controversy."

U.S. Postal Service officials have been working with the Military Postal Service Agency to improve the process, said 1st Lt. Scott Roberts, deputy flight commander of 82nd CSS postal operations flight. An Internet voting program known as the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, or SERVE, had been proposed as a possible alternative. However, concerns that computer hackers could break into the system and effectively corrupt the votes forced Department of Defense officials to halt plans to use SERVE for this election. Officials still plan to continue researching Internet voting.

For now, a low-tech alternative is in place. USPS officials said they have asked their local postmasters to contact voting officials in counties and jurisdictions responsible for mailing ballots and to whom completed ballots are returned. They are asking those officials to pull out the military ballots.

Local postmasters then will take those ballots and sort them for three different USPS gateway cities: San Francisco for servicemembers based around the Pacific, including west coast Marines and Sailors deployed to the USCENTCOM area of responsibility; New York for Europe and the Middle East; and Miami for Central and South America, and a few units in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. The balloting materials will go to these gateway cities via the USPS Express Mail service. Once at the USPS gateway facilities, postal managers will count the Express Mail pieces and sort them for the different military ZIP codes.

All the balloting materials will be sorted first into specially marked mail trays and handed over to the airlines, officials said. Airline workers will identify the trays that have voting materials, and those trays will again receive priority treatment. In theater, military postal workers can easily identify specially marked trays to ensure balloting materials are given priority as they travel to the servicemembers.

Once a servicemember votes, the reverse process is the same -- balloting materials receive priority, and ballots are placed in specially marked trays, officials said. One change from the 2000 election is that when ballots are received at the APO or FPO, mail clerks will sort all voting material and make it their highest priority for shipment back to the United States. Previously, voting material was treated as standard letter-class mail.

Military clerks will postmark the ballots with the date received in the military post office. This date is critical for election officials to be able to count the ballots. Once the ballots arrive from overseas at the USPS gateways, mail handlers will place them into the normal mail flow in the United States that allows for a three-day delivery.

USPS officials said they again will segregate balloting materials and use Express Mail to send ballots back to county officials beginning Oct. 30. Although Election Day is Nov. 2, these special-handling procedures will continue through Nov. 8. Despite this special attention, some ballots received after Election Day may not be counted, since different jurisdictions have different voting requirements. This is beyond military control as each state establishes its requirements independently.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program, which is managed by the Department of Defense, has established recommended mailing dates to help ensure the overseas military absentee ballots are counted. The final recommended date for requesting ballots is Aug. 15.

"The starting point for the whole process is the servicemember registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot," said Michael Thuber, 82nd CSS postal operations plans and logistics manager.

DOD and USPS officials are designating the week beginning Oct. 11 as Overseas Voting Week. For those assigned to operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom, the recommended date to return ballots is Oct. 11. For military members at other overseas locations, the recommended return date is Oct. 15.

"If people who wish to vote send their absentee ballots before these deadlines, the military and USPS will do all they can to ensure the ballots get to the county election officials before election day," Lieutenant Roberts said. "If you work with the plan and meet the deadlines, those votes will definitely be counted."
(Courtesy of ACC News Service. American Forces Press Service and Air Force Print News contributed to this article.)

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: absenteevote; election; everyvotecounts; freedom; honor; militaryvote; sacrifice; supportourtroops

1 posted on 08/06/2004 3:50:21 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

Bad news for Kerry: the military vote might actually count in 2004.

2 posted on 08/06/2004 3:52:13 PM PDT by ambrose (Kerry is endorsed by the Communist Party USA)
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To: Cannoneer No. 4; TEXOKIE; xzins; Alamo-Girl; blackie; SandRat; Calpernia; SAMWolf; prairiebreeze; ..

8/06/2004 DoD Pushes Absentee Ballot Reforms  
WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2004 – DoD is pulling out all the stops to make sure the absentee voting program runs smoothly in this election year. Charles Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told reporters at the Pentagon...

8/03/04 - Wherever you are, your vote counts  - Gen. Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander
8/04/04 - Leadership backs absentee voter registration - Army leaders tape ads for Army Voting Assistance Program that will air on the Pentagon Channel, American Forces networks overseas and local command channels beginning the week of Aug. 9.
For more information on federal voting policies, go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Web site at
Postal initiative to speed absentee ballots to Soldiers
HRC sends largest AKO e-mail to date
Counsel outlines political limits for Army personnel
Commentary: Lollipops not only incentive for teens to vote
Army program helps with absentee voting.
7/30/04 - SECNAV Reminds Sailors to Vote - Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England
Stars and Stripes Election/Voting Guide
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- For any service members stationed in foreign countries, from Iraq to Japan and anywhere in between, Stars and Stripes will publish a Voting Guide Aug. 17, as a supplement to the newspaper.

3 posted on 08/06/2004 3:52:54 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl (“There is no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing.”- Chaplain Bratton (ret), back from Iraq)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

My guess is that Dems will say there are hanging chads on the absentee ballads...

4 posted on 08/06/2004 3:55:25 PM PDT by KingsKindred
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Executive order: voting machines can be used at all military installations and on all ships worldwide. Problem solved.

Executive order. Photocopied ID required for voting, particularly mail in ballots. That'll eliminate several million fraudulant Dem votes.

5 posted on 08/06/2004 4:00:58 PM PDT by T. Jefferson
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

I am so glad that this issue is finally being taken seriously.

6 posted on 08/06/2004 4:21:08 PM PDT by ride the whirlwind ("I will never relent in bringing justice to our enemies..." - President Bush)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thanks Ragtime,I've been firing out emails to anyone that I could think of about this. Having you on the job makes me sleep a little easier tonight......Thanks

7 posted on 08/06/2004 4:26:01 PM PDT by ThreePuttinDude (Cevapcici and Slivovitz......for everyone)
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To: oceanview
Here's some news on what's going on with the military vote.
8 posted on 08/06/2004 6:21:13 PM PDT by Dolphy (Support
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To: Dolphy

the bags carrying these ballots should have MP guards - and a team of RNC lawyers when they are opened and counted.

9 posted on 08/06/2004 6:30:56 PM PDT by oceanview
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl


10 posted on 08/06/2004 8:46:25 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl


11 posted on 08/06/2004 10:21:12 PM PDT by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
The troops votes with count, this time ~ Bump!

We are winning ~ the bad guys are losing ~ trolls, terrorists, democrats and the mainstream media are sad ~ very sad!

~~ Bush/Cheney 2004 ~~

12 posted on 08/07/2004 10:45:13 AM PDT by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: Jim Robinson; Travis McGee; Squantos; JohnHuang2; Alamo-Girl; AFPhys; MJY1288

In case you haven't been pinged.

13 posted on 08/07/2004 10:59:52 AM PDT by GretchenM (A country is a terrible thing to waste. Vote Republican.)
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To: SkyPilot; TruthNtegrity


14 posted on 08/07/2004 11:16:37 AM PDT by GretchenM (A country is a terrible thing to waste. Vote Republican.)
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub


15 posted on 08/07/2004 11:17:12 AM PDT by GretchenM (A country is a terrible thing to waste. Vote Republican.)
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To: Wphile; Libertina; CyberCowboy777; goodnesswins
I vote by perpetual absentee ballot and checked out
King County Elections site re the new Declare Your Party primary system to see if I needed to request a party ballot. (If it's mandatory for the primary, why not for the general? Regardless of what good might be argued for it, I don't like this law as it forces party above individual choice, not that I'm hankering to vote for any dem candidates.)

I found this part interesting:

"Why did the county select to use a single ballot?

To help determine what ballot format would be the most effective, King County mailed sample ballot formats to 1600 randomly-selected voters and conducted a series of in-person focus groups with those responding. There were four major findings:

- People followed the instructions and correctly adjusted to the changes in numbers far greater than experienced in other states;
- Though the separate ballot design (one ballot for each party and one for non-partisan races and ballot measures; voters choose one and throw away the three unused ballots) had its supporters, people were concerned about the costs and waste of mailing three times as much paper as necessary. [Recycle on, Washington, My Home!!!]
- More voters indicated support for a single ballot over separate ballots - and more importantly - the rate of correctly-filled out ballots was the same for single and separate ballot designs;
- [This next is interesting.] Even though many people were angry about the change, they considered voting too important a right to let it stand in the way of their voting in the primary."

16 posted on 08/07/2004 11:37:46 AM PDT by GretchenM (A country is a terrible thing to waste. Vote Republican.)
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To: mystery-ak; mike1sg


17 posted on 08/07/2004 11:39:29 AM PDT by GretchenM (A country is a terrible thing to waste. Vote Republican.)
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To: GretchenM

Thanks for the ping!

18 posted on 08/07/2004 2:31:46 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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