COLUMBUS -- When freshman state Rep. Mike Dovilla (R., Berea) requested an absentee ballot in 2007 while deployed in Iraq with the U.S. Navy, his ballot never arrived.
"Through no fault of my own and despite a proactive attempt to obtain a ballot, I was disenfranchised in that year's municipal elections," he said.
An initiative unveiled Tuesday by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is designed to make that less likely to happen. In the future, a request for an absentee ballot by a member of the armed services will be tracked to ensure the ballot arrives, even if it means the ballot might be completed at the last minute and faxed back to Ohio for counting on Election Day.
The Military Ready-to-Vote program is designed to help soldiers register to vote and to request and cast ballots.
Military personnel may receive information packets, sign up for reminders via e-mail and social networking sites, receive information about races and issues, track their ballots to ensure they were counted, and watch election results via OhioMilitaryVotes.com.
"When I was doing my job interview for this office, as I traveled around the state, there was an impression and concern from military personnel and especially their families … that they weren't having access to vote, their votes weren't being counted, or at least they weren't being counted on Election Day when to them it really mattered," Mr. Husted said.
"That was very troubling to me," he said. "The last thing I want somebody to do, who's out serving our country, who's focused on our national defense and putting their life at risk in some cases, is worry about the difficulties it might take them to cast a vote or whether or not that vote's going to be counted."
During the 2010 general election, 5,670 military absentee ballots were requested and sent out, but just 2,509, or 44 percent, were returned. By comparison, 948,507 non-military absentee ballots were sent out in Ohio for that election with 850,533, or nearly 90 percent, returned.
-- Jim Provance
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