So, why should 2010 be any different? It wasn't, according to Hans A. von Spakovsky, writing at NationalReview.com:
This is simply shameful. The very Americans who ensure our right to vote are the very ones most likely to be disenfranchised. And while some military members are apolitical, others have grown tired of the tricks and simply given up on the idea of absentee voting. It's also worth noting that many of the problems occurred in the blue states with close elections (Illinois comes to mind) a few red states--including Alaska--asked for waivers as well.
As detailed in the MVPP report, the Obama Justice Department only added to the confusion, ignoring requests for guidance on the waivers from DoD, while telling the state of Maryland that it could avoid a waiver by simply mailing out a ballot for federal races. A federal judge eventually overruled the Maryland opinion, but it was still a scramble to get a complete ballot to military personnel from the state who were serving overseas.
Assessing data from last year's election, MVPP analysts believe 2010 represented a step backward for military voters--and it's hard to disagree:
On the individual state level, as set forth in Appendix A, the percentage of military voters
whose absentee ballots were counted ranged from 1.3 percent in North Carolina, where
only 8,323 of 111,550 eligible military voters had an absentee ballot that counted, to 15.7
percent in Washington. In total, 18 of the 24 states had military absentee voting participation
rates that fell below 5 percent. Nine states had a participation rate below 3 percent.
While the 2010 survey data does not include military members who voted in person (with
two exceptions discussed below), that percentage has been relatively small in the past. In 2006 for example, only 7 percent of military members voted in person. If a similar percentage voted in person in 2010, the total military voter participation rate for 2010 would have been 11.6 percent.
The Heritage Foundation will hold a conference on this matter July 19th in Washington. In attendance will be Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, Jr., a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His comments should prove illuminating, though he never said much about the issue while serving in the Pentagon. Indeed, DoD has never paid more than lip service to the issue, afraid of running afoul of Democrats in Congress and the White House.
Indeed, the military voting problem is referred to as "disenfranchisment" and not something more descriptive like "suppression." Yet, as the MVPP research team notes, how would we describe a system that produced similar voting totals among members of a minority group. Rest assured, it wouldn't be referred to as "disenfranchisement," and DOJ lawyers would already be in court, standing up for the victims.