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Of 11 people on Pacific bases whom Stars and Stripes asked at random for comment on Tuesday’s election, six said they did not cast ballots.

That equals a 45 percent voter turnout among them — about what the voting rate is in the States during a non-presidential election.

Two of the six non-voters said they tried but couldn’t arrange getting their absentee ballots with their home states.

Army 2nd Lt. Dawn Sverak, based in South Korea, said she tried to vote in Broward County, Fla., a county plagued by “hanging chads” in 2000 and later a scandal involving its former supervisor of elections.

But when she requested an absentee ballot, she said, she instead received a duplicate voter card.

Airman 1st Class Joseph Wellman, 21, assigned to Yokota Air Base in Japan, said he didn’t vote this year because of problems setting up an absentee ballot from Louisiana.

“Honestly, if I would’ve been back in the States, I probably would’ve voted,” he said. “It’s easier just to go to a courthouse and register.”

Wellman said he tried to register online.

“I know there’s a Web site to go to,” he said. “I went to it and spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. It seemed like more of a hassle and didn’t seem like it was worth it. I don’t want to make it seem like it’s not important to me. It’s just too much of a hassle from overseas. I wish they’d come up with a better method for military members to vote.”

Two others said they didn’t vote because they didn’t have the time to adequately research local candidates and issues on their state ballots.

And two others said they simply don’t vote.

“I’ve never voted,” said John Robinson, 48, a retired Marine master gunnery sergeant who now is a civil service employee on Okinawa.

“I chose not to. I just never got involved in politics,” he said. “As a Marine for 28 years, I always felt that I was a public servant and did what I was told no matter who was in charge.”

Among the five who did vote, making themselves heard at the polls was a snap, they said.

Carol Ryan, 50, a psychologist at Yokota’s West Elementary School, mailed her ballot to Tennessee. She first registered during the 2004 presidential election and has had no problems voting from overseas, she said.

“They just sent me a packet,” Ryan said. “I filled it out in about one minute, took it to the post office and dropped it off.”

She said politics is a “necessary evil” but believes it’s very important for Americans to vote.

“I heard on the news this morning that they’re really, really happy if they get 50 percent of voters out,” she added. “That’s a real small percentage when you actually think about who’s making decisions in our country.”

Stripes reporters David Allen, Franklin Fisher, Vince Little and Erik Slavin contributed to this report.


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