By Mollie Miller
Killeen Daily Herald
The very people who protect the countrys right to vote may be turned away from Central Texas polling sites during the upcoming primary elections because they failed to update their voting status when they re-turned from re-cent deployments.
This practice of denying a soldier the right to vote is a tragedy and should not be tolerated, said Nancy Boston, Bell Countys Republican Party chairwoman.
We need to make it easier for soldiers to vote, Boston said. We need to streamline the process to benefit those men and women who are fighting for our freedom.
Bell County Election Clerk Lindsay Clark said the problem soldiers are facing is that many deployed military personnel who sent a Federal Post Card Application to vote in previous elections are now back in Bell County. Although the soldiers are back in the country, Clark said their postcard application remains on file for four years and their ballot will be sent to the last location the clerks office has on file.
If the redeployed soldiers who requested a postcard ballot do not update their information with the clerks office, they will not be allowed to vote in person in Bell County, Clark said.
We had soldiers turned away during the last elections because of this, Boston said.
Boston said she and the rest of the members of the Alliance of Central Texans have begun working with Texas secretary of state and members of the Texas legislature to identify what they can do to make voting easier for soldiers.
So many of our 1st Cavalry Division soldiers were (in Iraq) and helped secure the right to vote for the Iraqis and we just want to make sure they have the same right back home, said Brenda Wheeler, also a member of the Alliance of Central Texans. They sacrificed everything and the least we can do is make sure that this sacrifice doesnt cost them their right to vote.
The cutoff to register soldiers to vote in the primary elections, which start Tuesday with early voting, has passed. However, Boston said she hopes changes can be made in time for general elections this November.
This issue needs to be brought to the attention of all our politicians, Boston said. Working together, we can give these soldiers the (voting) opportunities they deserve.
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