Members of the military and veterans have urged President Donald Trump to let ballot counting continue, Newsweek reports.
Trump has called for vote counting to stop in several key states. But military members are asking the president to let the electoral process play out as some of the uncounted votes may belong to military members and their families who are stationed overseas.
The Count Every Hero organization notes that mail-in ballots cast by military members can take longer to reach their home states, especially if they are stationed out of the country.
Chairman of the group, retired Marine Corps Gen. Tony Zinni, implored Trump to "remember" his role as commander-in-chief. "I think one of the obligations is to protect the rights of your service members that serve under you and ensure that their voice is heard and their vote is counted,” he told Newsweek.
Count Every Hero is part of the Military Vote Coalition, a group of military family and veteran support organizations that work to increase voter participation.
The coalition has been pushing the importance of absentee ballots in battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina where votes are still being counted. In those states, absentee ballots cast by military and overseas U.S. citizens can be counted after election day.
"We ask a lot of our military,” Count Every Hero secretary Debbie Lee James told Newsweek. “On a volunteer basis, to make sacrifices, separate from their family, risk life and limb—what is the message we're sending by not counting their lawful votes? The 99 percent of Americans who do not or have not served owe it to the one percent that do to make sure that their voices are heard."
Research Manager Jack Noland said "razor thin" margins in certain key states could contribute to the deciding votes at the end of the count.
"Any attempts to stop vote counts, or disqualify mail-in ballots, will disproportionately affect military voters," Noland said. "Every vote must be counted to protect the military and gain the trust of all Americans, regardless of their preferred presidential candidate."
Anthony Brown, the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Trump's calls to stop counting votes on Election Day threatens to disenfranchise voters, including military veterans.
"Vote by mail has long been trusted among military personnel serving abroad — millions of whom have voted by mail for decades," Brown said in a statement. "When I served in Iraq in 2004, I was one of them. Ballots postmarked on election day coming from service members in Baghdad should count just the same as those coming from voters in Baltimore."
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