QATAR — While some absentee voter ballots didn’t count in the 2000 presidential election due to poor postmarkings or not arriving on time, military post offices throughout the Middle East are working to ensure every vote will be counted in November’s election.

According to Air Force Maj. Lonnie Hammack, who oversees the operation of more than 80 post offices throughout the region, a Government Accounting Office report showed that poor postmarkings resulted in some ballots not being counted in the 2000 presidential election.

“In order for a ballot to be valid, it has to have a good postmark,” Hammack said. “[In 2000], they either had no postmark or it couldn’t be read.”

Hammack said he’s already addressed the problem so the same thing won’t happen in the upcoming election. He said every post office in the region has been checked to make sure equipment is up to par.

“If the postmarking equipment is worn out, we ordered new [equipment],” Hammack said. “They must have all the new equipment in place by Aug. 1.”

In addition to new equipment at some post offices, Hammack said postal workers also have a Postal Balloting Action Plan, which outlines all the steps his post offices are taking to ensure ballots get to the States in time.

“Transportation of the mail wasn’t a big issue in 2000, but some didn’t make it back in time,” Hammack said. “We’ve been checking transit times to see if we have weak links in the routes. If we do, we can see how we can speed up that segment.”

While military post offices are doing all they can to ensure absentee ballots arrive on time, Hammack said it’s important for the voters to do their part. He said for those in the Middle East, most ballots must be requested by Aug. 15 and mailed out by Oct. 11.

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