Thursday, December 15, 2005

Continued problems with military absentee balloting

A letter in today's Washington Post argues that more than 1/3 of all military voters who wanted to vote absentee were unable to, because their ballots were lost, were delivered to the wrong address, or were delivered too late to be cast.

The figures reported by the National Defense Committee (here) differ (they report a 24% "disenfranchisement rate"). Still, anything over a few percentage points would be a point of concern.

There is a problem, however. The numbers in the NDC report are based on the number of absentee ballot request vs. the number actually returned. They do report on the percentage rejected because they arrived too late or had some problems with the address.

But do we know anything about what percentage of absentee ballots were not returned because the individual simply chose to abstain? Obviously, it would be foolish to assume 100% absentee return rate from military personnel.

Perhaps we could compare absentee request and return rates from other jurisdictions. One of the best reporting jurrisdiction is Johnson County, Iowa. In this county, more than 94% of ballots requested in 2004 were returned. These figures are dramatically higher than the military return rate, lending some credence to the NDC report.


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