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Count every last GI’s vote

As the U.S. elections approach, I am reminded of the countless images that came from Iraq and Egypt showing the ink-stained fingers of those who proudly cast their vote. Those stained fingers represent the hope that their voices would finally be heard in a new democracy.

An election is a privilege that is fiercely defended and protected by our U.S. military every day. Today, I am shocked to hear that our servicemembers overseas may not have sufficient time to cast their ballot in the general election. Is it possible that those military members who fight to protect our democracy would themselves not be heard in their own election? Yes, because some states failed to send out absentee ballots on time.

As a military spouse, it is disheartening to hear the military is not a priority in the election and our votes may not count.

Under the Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act of 2009, states are required to send out absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election. Several states were unable to make the 45-day deadline and are not in compliance with federal law. Where a state fails to comply with federal law, it is unconscionable the end result is that military ballots would not be counted.

Our democracy is something to be cherished, so much so that countless Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice fighting to preserve it. We cannot discount our military votes simply because states failed to take action.

Members of our U.S. military make America a priority each and every day. It is up to us to make military members our priority. We can do that by ensuring their absentee votes are counted by extending the deadline by the same number of days the ballots were mailed late.

Leigh Searl
Alexandria, Va.

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