Tags: Clinton | DOD | Gives | Counting | Military | Vote

Clinton DOD Gives Up on Counting Military Vote

Tuesday, 28 November 2000 12:00 AM

Cohen directed the Pentagon inspector general to recommend changes for future elections so the "voting rights of all U.S. military personnel are respected and that everything possible is done to make sure that every vote counts."

"I want to make certain that the Department of Defense does everything within its authority to ensure that every American in uniform serving overseas, as well as their accompanying family members and DOD civilian employees, is encouraged to vote and understands the process by which ballots must be properly completed," Cohen said in a memorandum Tuesday to the Pentagon's inspector general.

"I also want to make sure that each and every ballot delivered through the Military Postal Service is processed promptly and properly as required under Department of Defense regulations."

"The secretary's interest is to make sure we have a system that makes every vote count," said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon at a press conference.

Fearing that military personnel would vote for President-elect Bush, Democrats labored to exclude the military vote in Florida. After Democrat challenges, more than 1,000 absentee ballots cast by service members from overseas postings were thrown out for various reasons, the most common being lack of a postmark.

Florida law requires overseas ballots to be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 7, and to be received in local districts within 10 days. Apparently, many absentee ballots did not receive postmarks on their ships or once they reached the United States Postal Service offices.

Military absentee ballots do not require stamps to be mailed, so there is often no mechanism to require a postmark, which prevents stamps from being used again.

Clinton appointee Cohen told reporters last week while traveling in the Middle East he had asked the Defense Department's general counsel to review the legal options to force Florida to include military votes in the excruciatingly close presidential tally.

Bacon claimed that effort was fruitless.

"We cannot instruct Florida how to interpret its own laws," said Bacon.

Instead, Cohen directed the inspector general's office to recommend changes to how the military handles oversees absentee ballots, including standard cancellation and postmarking procedures and any discrepancies between established procedures and how those procedures have actually been implemented.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Cohen directed the Pentagon inspector general to recommend changes for future elections so the voting rights of all U.S. military personnel are respected and that everything possible is done to make sure that every vote counts. I want to make certain that the...
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2000-00-28
Tuesday, 28 November 2000 12:00 AM
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