(From Republican attorney general candidate Ed Martin)
After a week of productive roundtable discussions, Republican candidate for Attorney General Ed Martin announced Wednesday he is committing to military voting rights as a key aspect of his “We Remember” plan which was released on June 4.
“Every election year we learn of problems with soldiers who for some reason were disenfranchised,” says Martin. “When our soldiers are sent overseas they should at least rest assured that their government is doing everything in its power to protect their right to vote.”
Karen Bolhuis, a former Navy HM3 and registered nurse supports Martin’s initiative. “I remember being deployed on the USS Kitty Hawk during the 1996 election and watching the results late at night. I was praying that my absentee ballot actually arrived and was counted. To be honest, I always have a feeling that military votes get lost, hidden away, or even thrown out.”
Retired Army Colonel Fred Berry has seen the problems first-hand. "In the past I saw too often whole communities of service members and their families stationed overseas disenfranchised from the election process because there simply was not a good system in place that would ensure these military families had the information and wherewithal to cast a vote in time."
Missouri elections are administered by the Secretary of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense is responsible for getting ballots to soldiers abroad, but Martin sees an opportunity to help through the office of Missouri Attorney General by creating better access to the many resources already in place that help overseas soldiers vote absentee. Martin is committed to doing everything he can as Attorney General to ensure soldiers have access to ballots with enough time to return them before election day, and once they are returned to make sure their ballots are counted.
In New York State, lawmakers recently passed a bill to fix a loophole in their election laws that would allow soldiers’ absentee ballots to be counted if they die in combat prior to election day. With previous experience in overseeing elections as the Chair of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, Martin knows the importance of fair elections, so he is pledging to work with the next Secretary of State and the Department of Defense to protect soldiers’ right to vote, and to fix loopholes in Missouri law similar to the one in New York, if necessary.
“Voting is the heart of democracy,” said Martin. “And if our brave men and women are fighting for our right to vote we need to make sure they have that opportunity as well.”
Martin will be holding several more roundtable discussions in the weeks to come as he continues to promote the "We Remember" advocacy plan. Upcoming roundtables in Kansas City, St. Joseph, Columbia, Moberly, and others will be announced soon.