A number of military officers have strongly criticized Donald Trump’s demands to stop the counting of votes in several states and begged him not to interfere in the election process.
Absentee ballots can be cast by U.S. military personnel working abroad and their families, by people with illnesses or other conditions that prevent them from voting in person, or by people who would prefer to mail a ballot.
The Count Every Hero group, whose members include a number of veterans, points out that it may take longer for these ballots to reach their home countries because of the long distances they have to travel and the late mail service.
Retired Marine Corps Chairman General Tony Zinni called on Trump to “remember” his role as Commander-in-Chief.
“I believe one of the duties is to protect the rights of the members of your service who serve under you and to ensure that their voice is heard and their vote is counted.
Count Every Hero is a member of the Military Vote Coalition, a group of support organizations for military families and veterans whose mission is to increase voter participation. This week, the organization has highlighted the important role that absentee ballots can play in the outcome of some battlefield states where votes are still counted.
In Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, postal ballots of military personnel and U.S. citizens from overseas may be counted after Election Day in accordance with state laws. Federal law requires states to provide special voting rights for service members and their families who are stationed out of the home.
“We demand a lot from our military. Making sacrifices on a voluntary basis, risking life and limb separately from their families – what is the message we send when we don’t count their legitimate votes,” said Count Every Hero Secretary Debbie Lee James.
“The 99 percent of Americans who have not served or have not served owe it to the one percent who does to make sure their voices are heard.
Research director Jack Noland said that “wafer-thin” margins in certain key states could contribute to the decisive votes at the end of the count.
“Any attempt to stop the vote count or disqualify postal ballots will disproportionately affect military voters,” Noland said. “Every vote must be counted to protect the military and win the confidence of all Americans, regardless of their preferred presidential candidate,” Noland said.
Anthony Brown, vice chairman of the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s “meritless insistence that the vote count be stopped on November 3 threatens to disenfranchise thousands of voters, including military veterans.
“Postal votes have long been trusted among military personnel serving abroad – millions of them have voted by mail for decades,” Brown said in a statement.
“When I served in Iraq in 2004, I was one of them. Ballot papers of military personnel in Baghdad stamped on election day should count the same as those of voters in Baltimore.