Dear Republican National Convention Rules Committee Member,
We are writing to ask for your support for a change to the Republican National Committee's rules that would guarantee our fighting men and women the right to vote in the Republican nomination contest for President. Currently, many active-duty military cannot participate in caucuses due to deployment or other factors.
We have had the privilege of speaking with some members of the Rules committee about rectifying this situation, and nearly everyone has indicated strong support for this change to the RNC's rules.
In a Wednesday Washington Post story, Barack Obama's campaign manager indicated that they will recommend an absentee ballot process for their caucuses. This would allow active-duty military to participate in the Democrat's process.
Will you join us in supporting our troops by allowing active-duty military to participate in Republican nomination contests by absentee ballot?
On behalf of tens of thousands of military families and individual members of our various grass roots organizations such as Vets for Freedom, and Veterans in Politics International, and so many more, we thank you.
If you have any questions, please respond to this email or call Matt Salisbury at (208) 850-6507.
USAR, ARNG, 92-07
2nd Ranger, 216th M.I. Recon
Matt Signature (3).jpg
Chairman, Vets for Freedom
President, Veterans in Politics
Joel A. Arrends
Executive Director, Vets for Freedom
PS: A Friday New York Post op-ed on this subject is below:
GIVE US TROOPS A VOTE THAT COUNTS
By JOHN P. AVLON
Posted: 4:25 am
August 22, 2008
Overseas soldiers' November votes often don't get counted - and they can't vote in the caucuses that often decide the nominees.
SHOULD the political parties' rules prohibit US soldiers from voting for president?
That question will come before the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Committee's Rules Committee next week. At stake is whether the presidential primary votes of 350,000-plus armed-service men and women posted overseas will count in the states that hold caucuses - which require voting in person.
On the surface, it seems like an easy call: Soldiers fighting and dying for our freedom ought to be guaranteed their votes will count at every stage of any campaign, especially a presidential one.
During the Vietnam War, we lowered the voting age to 18 to give the vote to drafted soldiers. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should inspire a new effort to expand the franchise for our troops.
But both parties have become awfully good at gaming the system in recent years with a combination of rigged redistricting and voting systems like closed partisan primaries. Caucuses (as Hillary Clinton's campaign found out) are especially easy for party activists to dominate.
Guaranteeing that caucuses count soldiers' absentee ballots would open that process a bit. It might cause some organizational headaches and make the political math less predictable - but it's the right thing to do: It ensures that as many people as possible are guaranteed the right to vote when the parties are selecting the candidates for the general election.
In addition to their flesh-and-blood commitment to country, soldiers show a higher-than-average commitment to voting: In the last three general elections, soldiers have averaged 65 percent voter participation. But their votes often don't get counted: A survey by the Election Assistance Commission found that, of almost a million ballots requested by overseas and military voters in the 2006 election, only a third wound up being counted - mostly because of postal complications.
But it's important to boost the troops' ability to vote in the primaries, too - for the primaries are often many Americans' best chance to influence who winds up in the White House.
There are roughly a dozen battleground states in this election. So, if your home is in any of the other 38, your general-election vote is unlikely to turn the tide: The reddest states will go Republican; the bluest, Democrat. (The every-vote-counts examples of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 are compelling but few and far between.)
So soldiers who really want their votes to count - especially their votes for the person who'll have the power to send them abroad to fight or bring them home - should be able to participate fully in their party's nomination contests.
This reform could have a decisive impact on who the parties nominate. The famously pivotal first caucus state, Iowa, has 13,000 reservists serving. Caucuses are held in the swing states of Colorado, Nevada, Alaska and Washington - as well as in Kansas, Maine and Montana.
Recent years have seen record numbers of reservists deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. And plenty of active-duty soldiers serve abroad, too. Not a single soldier should find him- or herself disenfranchised when it comes to picking the commander-in-chief.
This should be a bipartisan concern. Democrats have rightly protested the recent Department of Veterans Affairs decision to restrict nonpartisan voter-registration drives in VA hospitals. (Democrats surely can take some comfort in recent statistics that show Barack Obama out raising John McCain among soldiers overseas by a margin of 6 to 1.)
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told The Washington Post yesterday that the Democrat wants to implement some meaningful election reforms - including cleaning up the caucus process and letting in absentee voters.
Republicans have led the effort to support general-election military voting. GOP bills recently introduced in Congress would have the military underwrite the costs of a faster, guaranteed method of absentee-ballot delivery - and the Republican platform will likely echo this principle.
Rather than just wait for a Democratic-led Congress to approve those bills, the GOP should apply that logic to the primaries - and change its own rules to require that GOP caucus states permit absentee ballots for active-duty soldiers.
It's in America's interest to see maximum participation in our elections. This modest reform would be a step in the right direction, toward a more open process and a level playing field, starting with some of our most active and honorable citizens - our soldiers.