If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that our active-duty military personnel have earned
the right to have their vote counted when they serve our country overseas. Over the past decade,
Congress stepped up and required that all military absentee ballots be made available 45 days prior
to the election for those who request one. Blank ballots can be sent via mail or electronically to get
to our servicemen and women faster.
Unfortunately, while technology and the law have made it easier and faster to send our troops
their ballots, all too often, the completed ballot does not make it back to the clerk before Election
Day and their vote isn’t counted.
Just this month, I visited a county party meeting to hear from grassroots activists and there a
Michigan Air National Guard member shared with me her voting experience while being deployed
to Afghanistan. She thought she had done everything right to have her vote counted, even
mailing her ballot a month before Election Day, but that still wasn’t enough time for her
ballot to reach the clerk in time to be counted.
This disenfranchisement of our military members, their families and all of our
citizens living and working overseas needs to be fixed! As your next Secretary of State, I
will work with our local clerks in Michigan, active-duty personnel, veterans, and Congress to make
sure that our men and women defending our rights overseas are able to exercise their right to vote
and to have their vote count!
Additionally, I will create a Military & Veterans Affairs Advocacy unit to promote the services that the Secretary of State offers to both veterans and active-duty service members.
Working directly with the Michigan National Guard, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military & Veterans Affairs Advocate will make sure that our
military men and woman know how to obtain an absentee ballot, registration and license plate
renewals for their vehicles when they are overseas and how to get a veteran designation on their
driver’s license or state ID.
Having a dedicated unit within the Department of State to focus on military and veterans issues
is the least we can do for all they have done for us.
Mary Treder Lang, CPA