Friday, April 3, 2009

Get Military Votes IN, Get them Counted

Originally Published: January, 2009

We live – and if we hope to avoid an untimely Darwinian end – We learn.

What we did
During the run-up to the 2008 elections, Count US In pressed hard for publicity for the issues of minuscule military voter participation and simplification of the voting process so that military voting could even occur. As the election cycle got closer, we pushed for Veterans, Friends, and Family to mobilize and assist military voters in getting properly registered, voting, and in the processing of those votes.

What actually happened
A well-meaning but naïve press ignored our pleas for publicity until just before and just after the elections in November 2008. At the last second, when it would least help our cause, the media saw a story with human interest and pathos – Our Military Can’t Vote. Their interest lasted about 45 days in all, and ended abruptly just past the election. Since we didn’t get the publicity we needed early enough, we were not as successful as we hoped in organizing our grass roots support effort of Veterans, Family and Friends, and were unable to provide all the support we wanted to servicemen who came to us for information on the voting process, local candidates, and local issues.

What we have learned
What we learned from the 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, is that military voters are disenfranchised, and no effective effort is being undertaken to change that. (Witness Sen. Cornyn's bill's failure, the Florida debacle with military absentee votes in 2000, tossing out military absentee votes in two DC area counties of Virginia, and possibly more of the same in the recount in Minnesota).

We also learned that the media gives us play on the days before and after the elections (when it is least useful to the service members). We just feed them excitement for ratings, not for results.

What we’re going to do
We’re going to re-target. Our re-targeting effort will focus on amplifying our grass roots efforts. We need to help our troops participate under whatever system they face in their election districts—you need to vote where you live. And, we need to raise amazing amounts of hell at the local and State levels to get them to take extraordinary measures to count the votes of our servicemen and women. The system is flawed, there are lots of good people working on it, but it’s going to take time to move the bureaucracy off dead center. But, until then, the military still must vote to be heard!
We can’t organize this effort from the top down. We need a grass roots organization. So, here’s the plan. We’ll push for volunteers to be Election District Directors (EDD) – yes, we’ll come up with some other name for that post – don’t want any of the older vets thinking about some other dysfunction. All you gotta do to become one is raise that hand. These volunteers can raise $$ for Count US In within their districts, and we’ll try to use that to pay for things like mileage for EDDs (I know, change it).

Our goal is simple and clear – Get military votes in, then, get them counted.

The bottom line
Because of the low participation, the military vote is seen as inconsequential, so no one really cares about addressing the complex problems associated with straightening out the system. Yes, they pass laws which create more bureaucrats and do nothing to solve problems. Politicians just aren’t mission oriented – except for the mission of getting re-elected. You do the math. Do the party lawyers have a tendency (2000 in FL, 2004 in OH, 2008 in N VA and MN) to discount military absentee votes (from APO and FPO addresses)? Yes. But, there are so few votes that none of the parties really gives a damn.

So, for any politician to care about the military vote, we have to increase the number of votes. If we do that, one of the political parties will start to dance to your tune (whatever that is - I find I agree with soldiers much more often than I agree with lawyers). Mostly, politics is about money, but sometimes, the votes actually matter. In those cases, any bloc that delivers has power (examples - blacks, women, unions, the religious right—whatever). Just look at the party platforms and you can see how those voting blocs influence the party’s stand.

If the military voted, they'd have power. Unfortunately, they don't do either. They don’t vote, and therefore they don’t have power. Aren’t you ready to change that?

Can you become an EDD (yes, the name will change)?
Are you associated with a Veteran’s chapter that you are willing to recruit to our mission?
Do you know a soldier you want to help?
Want to help a relative who is in the service?
Count US In is “all in.”
The election of 2010 is just around the corner. To influence State legislatures in time to force improved legislation, we need to mobilize NOW! To be represented, our military needs power. To get power, they have to vote. To vote, our military needs your help.
We want to Count YOU In!
Volunteer, Donate, Call or Write. We need YOUR voice to be heard!
Ruck the Vote!!!

Small Print
Don Johnson and Count US In want all our military personnel to exercise their right to vote, and we want their families, friends and other veterans to help motivate and facilitate those votes. Your comments, suggestions, donations, and input are welcome at . Count US In doesn’t care how you vote – we just want you to vote – period.
If you are unfamiliar with the term Ruck the Vote, then you are a slacker and haven’t read all of Don’s rants. Feel free to take Don to task in the blog at the website if you feel motivated to do so (which is of course, the whole point, isn’t it?)

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