Most overseas service members vote by mail, their ballots will arrive after Election Day, and their votes could significantly impact the November 3 election results. That’s according to a study released today by Count Every Hero, a cross-partisan campaign to ensure all service members’ votes are counted before election winners are declared.
“There is no question that active-duty troops and other overseas voters could make the difference in the 2020 election,” said Retired Navy Admiral Jon Greenert. “It is crucial we count the votes from our service members and resist any calls to stop the count or declare a winner before these legal ballots have a chance to arrive.”
The report, Military Voting in All 50 States, has important insights into how service members’ votes factor into this historic election:
- Most overseas service members who vote will do so by mail. Hundreds of thousands of military votes are expected to be cast this election via overseas absentee ballot. Turnout is expected to be higher than the 216,000 service members abroad who voted by mail in 2016.
- The majority of states accept military ballots later than they do civilian ballots. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia count ballots from overseas service members that arrive after polls close. The amount of time states allow for military ballots to arrive after Election Day varies from two days in South Carolina to 20 days in Washington.
- Military ballots can have substantial electoral implications. More than 75 percent of the available votes in the Electoral College will come from states counting overseas military ballots after Election Day. The states that accept ballots arriving a week after Election Day, or later, still account for a majority of the electoral votes.
The study provides state-by-state rules for counting military ballots, including an easy-to-read chart and map.
“Members of the military have been voting by mail in large numbers since the Civil War. We must honor their service — and their votes,” said Charlynda Scales, United States Air Force and Air Force Reserves Veteran. “As a fourth-generation service member, it’s so important to me that service members participate in this election. In a year when more people than ever will be voting by mail and it will take longer to get results, we must make sure every vote gets counted.”
“We must give our men and women in uniform a real chance to receive their ballot, to return it, and to have that ballot counted, like all the other Americans they pledged to support and defend,” said Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., Admiral, US Navy (retired). “They deserve nothing less.”
The group also launched its first campaign video ahead of the November 3 election. The video describes a military formation and the importance of every single person playing a crucial role—that if one of their comrades falls behind, it’s on the team to pick them up. That easily translates to our democratic voting process.
“Nearly 1 million members of our armed services are eligible to vote this election, and it’s on us to make sure that not a single one of them is left behind,” said Herb Thompson, United States Army, Special Forces Veteran, Retired. “With only 20 days left before the election, it’s time to put principle and country over party. We need every American to join in and play their role as members of this democratic republic to ensure that our voices are heard. We don’t leave our brothers and sisters in uniform behind on the battlefield. We won’t do it at the ballot box.”
Count Every Hero is committed to ensuring two major principles:
- Every service member’s right to vote must be protected and their votes must be counted.
- Military voters must have an opportunity to register, request an absentee ballot, and cast a vote regardless of their location in the world.
Count Every Hero is a member of the Military Vote Coalition, a group of military family and veteran support organizations whose mission is to increase voter participation. The coalition promotes policies that increase awareness and voting accessibility for veterans and military families.