Buoyed by a new law requiring states to make absentee ballots more accessible to military troops serving overseas, troops voted at a higher rate than the general population in last year’s midterm elections, according to a new report.
Overall, 46 percent of the military voted in the 2010 midterm elections, a 21 percent jump from the 2006 midterms and slightly higher than the 45.5 percent of the general population that cast ballots last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
FVAP is a Pentagon office responsible for overseeing the distribution of absentee ballots to troops and their spouses.
Voter registration last year among troops also was higher than the general public; 65 percent of Americans registered to vote in 2010, but 77 percent of troops registered.
Despite the increases, FVAP said more than 112,000 military voters never received ballots they requested in 2010, a 12 percent increase from 2008.
The report’s authors credited Congress for a 2009 law that forced states to mail absentee ballots 45 days before Election Day to Americans who want to vote while abroad.
Bolstered by the new law, the Pentagon strongly urged troops to register for ballots, and the Justice Department filed several lawsuits or reached out-of-court settlements with several states that failed to comply with the law.
As a result, the law “substantially improved the opportunity for active duty military voters to successfully cast a ballot,” the report said.
For the first time, FVAP also surveyed military spouses and found that 52 percent of them voted in the 2010 elections. Of those who voted, 57 percent of military spouses voted in person. Overall, just 33 percent of military personnel voted in person, the report said.
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