Priority mail for the troops
Plagued by a history of problems delivering mail, especially in wartime, the Pentagon will soon be unveiling a program to do a better job of getting ballots overseas and back so units deployed in combat zones and elsewhere can cast votes in the fall presidential election.
The pledge for improvement comes amid critical reports on laggardly military mail service and complaints of shortages of forms to request absentee ballots for overseas civilians.
Pentagon studies of recent elections have found about a quarter of overseas military service members who try to get an absentee ballot do not get it in time or do not get it back to their local election office in time for it to be counted. More recently, a General Accounting Office study released this month said historic military mail problems have resurfaced in Iraq.
The Pentagon and the Postal Service are putting finishing touches on a joint agreement for speedy handling of ballots going back and forth to units overseas. The ballots will travel in specially colored containers so everyone knows they need priority handling, said Charles S. Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. His portfolio includes the Federal Voting Assistance Program responsible for more than 6 million military and civilian voters overseas. -- Pentagon to Try to Fix War Zone Voting Woes (washingtonpost.com)