As you read this, there’s a young Marine patrolling the roadside in Ramallah or Fallujah looking for IEDs. As he does, he daydreams. He thinks about his young wife in San Diego, his mom and dad, and the dog he found at the pound. He remembers that the presidential election is few short months away and he’ll need to track down his unit’s voting assistance officer and get an absentee ballot. He wants to vote for President Bush because he respects him, thinks he’s been a good commander-in-chief. Sure, being in Iraq, several thousand miles away from home, sucks but that’s what he does. He’s a Marine and he’s proud to do whatever he can to help these poor people find their way to freedom.
He’s too young to remember that, four years ago in the last presidential election, military absentee ballots were a big deal. In the deciding battleground of Florida, Democratic candidate Al Gore and a team of lawyers went to great lengths to prevent military absentee ballots from being counted. They fought over every ballot, one by one, challenging the authenticity of signatures, noting the lack of postmarks, and contesting incomplete or, in some cases, handwritten entries. While Gore, Jesse Jackson and company were blubbering about “disenfranchised voters” in Palm Beach apparently incapable of following a line and punching out a chad, thousands of men and women serving their country abroad, some in combat zones, were having their votes systematically negated.
In heavily Republican Duval County, Florida, five Gore lawyers contested every one of hundreds of military votes during a 19-hour process running until 4:00 AM. It took the Bush campaign filing a lawsuit in five Florida counties to prevent the discarding of military ballots that didn’t have a postmark. (Mail services in the military, especially in the more remote assignments, are a different animal. Not all military mail is processed through U.S. postal services). U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier ordered Florida’s canvassing board to cease and desist, reminding them “their job is to accept votes, not reject them.”
Apparently the liberal mantra of “supporting our troops” doesn’t mean supporting their right to vote. No doubt, somewhere in a room lawyers for John Kerry are huddled in strategic anticipation, drawing up legal briefs for future military ballots cast abroad.
Why do liberals want to count votes of the seemingly incapable and exclude those serving our nation? A 1997 study published by Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies found the ratio of military members describing themselves as conservative versus liberal to be 23 to 1 — and growing! The Triangle Institute for Strategic Studies (TISS), in research conducted during the Clinton administration, discovered that military officers define themselves as Republican by a margin of 8 to 1. In today’s American military, there are approximately 2.3 million members of the active duty, guard and reserves. They have families of legal voting age as well. That’s a voting block of approximately 4 million. Key battleground states Florida, Missouri and New Mexico have significantly large military populations.
So, the young Marine marches his patrol. It doesn’t enter his mind that he, a young adult serving his country, could potentially not have his vote counted. In the military, people do what they say. They stand behind their word. It’s black and white. Every aspect of military life is regulated.
That’s what should alarm the Kerry campaign the most.
The soldier knows of self-proclaimed “war hero” Kerry’s activities in the post-Vietnam years. The soldier knows Kerry’s voting record over the last twenty years does not include support for a single weapon system or intelligence service upgrade. The soldier plans to repay him this November.