While Virginia leaders would like to call the Commonwealth the most veteran-friendly state, they’re acknowledging a major problem with the number of overseas, active-duty sailors, soldiers, Marines, and airmen who actually participate in local and national elections. And with thousands of Virginians deployed elsewhere, their absence at the polls could make a difference in election outcomes. State officials have analyzed why members of the military are not voting … and are launching an initiative to address those problems.
Eric Eversole, founder of the Heroes Vote Initiative, says when troops deploy, they are still citizens, but for one reason or another, they don't or can't take advantage of the right that other citizens exercise:
He says many don't have access to technology or the proper forms to vote absentee when they're in the field. State Board of Elections Secretary Donald Palmer adds that 25-percent of the absentee ballots that ARE returned aren't even counted--primarily because they miss crucial deadlines:
The new state "Boots and Ballots" campaign to help service men and women vote will begin with educating them BEFORE they deploy. It also includes providing better access to electronic voting programs and equipment, preparing registrars to provide improved assistance, and crafting more legislation to better facilitate overseas voting.