While a number of battleground states have reported dismal numbers of military absentee ballot requests in early counts, the western swing state of Colorado announced Monday that its ballot request totals for military and overseas absentee voters have already surpassed 2008 totals, with eight days to go until the election.
After low recorded voter turnout in these demographics four years ago, Congress authorized $75 million for the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which, among other provisions, established and staffed voting assistance offices at over 220 military bases. But early ballot request totals in a number of states showed an even more depressed military voting turnout than in 2008, and a bombshell report at the end of August from the Department of Defense Inspector General found that half of the new voting offices were unreachable by telephone or email.
Colorado is proving that low military voting does not have to be the status quo.
The office of Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that 19,055 military and overseas ballot requests had been received, 2,804 more than in 2008. The 8,320 completed ballots the state has already received from these voters amounts to a return rate 80 percent higher than in the 2010 election.
The improvement in numbers is attributed to a statewide project launched in 2010 that allows overseas voters to receive next-day ballots electronically and mail them back at their convenience.
Colorado Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge told Human Events that the state had also kept in touch with its military voters, and kept them informed.
‚??We have email addresses for the vast majority of our military and overseas voters,‚?Ě he said. ‚??We stay in close contact with our military bases and National Guard units.‚?Ě
As a result, he said, the state has seen hundreds of ballot requests pouring in every day, even as the Defense Department has struggled to explain the dip in voter participation in other states.
The strong military voter turnout in Colorado could be a boon for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has struggled to hold a polling advantage in the state–the race is now tied in polling between the two candidates–but consistently bests president Barack Obama in support from military voters.
A Military Times poll released this month shows Romney maintaining more than a 2-1 advantage among active-duty and reserve troops, with 66 percent of polling support, compared to Obama‚??s 26 percent.
According to the poll, 57 percent of troops surveyed will vote absentee.