The News Without Transparency: Military Voting on the Upswing

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The Washington Post looked at the impact of new legislation facilitating absentee ballots and found that overseas military personnel voted at higher rates than the general population in the 2010 elections.

The new legislation, or the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, was ultimately included in the Defense Authorization Bill of 2010.

The article states a number of military voting statistics:

  • 46 percent of military personnel cast ballots last year, which is a 21 percent increase from 2006 and slightly more than the 45.5 percent of the general population who voted.
  • 77 percent of U.S. troops registered to vote in 2010 compared to just 65 percent of the general public.
  • Over 112,000 military voters were unable to vote because they never received ballots they requested in 2010. This is a 12 percent more than those who did not receive ballots in 2008.
  • 52 percent of military spouses voted in 2010. Of these, 57 percent voted in person, while just 33 percent of military personnel voted in person.

Voting statistics regarding military personnel are available in reports developed by the Federal Voter Assistance Program. Post election reports are available┬ádigitally starting with the fourth report, which covers the period between September 1961 and 1963. ┬áThe Washington Post article used the FVAP’s 2010 Post Election Report.

The raw data for the statistics used in the reports and in the article is also available from the FVAP as well as on Data.gov, but the spreadsheets are hard to decipher. I personally found the reports to be sufficiently informative, but the data is there if one wanted to do a deeper analysis.

Statistics regarding the general public’s voting patterns, which FVAP used to draw comparisons in its report, are available from the U.S. Census Bureau. The statistics for 2010 are available here.

Policy Fellow Matt Rumsey helped with the research for this post.

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“The News Without Transparency” shows you what the news would look like without public access to information. Laws and regulations that force the government to make the data it has publicly available are absolutely vital, along with services that take that raw data and make it easy for reporters to write sentences like the ones we’ve redacted in the piece above. If you have an article you’d like us to put through the redaction machine, please send us an email at mbuck@sunlightfoundation.com.

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