Voting
8:17 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Concerns Over Lack of Military Absentee Voting in Fannin County

BONHAM - With just over a month remaining before the November 6 General Election, voters are preparing to make their choices for President and on down to the local level.

Citizens can request an application to vote by mail, also known as absentee voting, as early as 60 days before the election. For members of the military and overseas voters, they can do so anytime throughout the year. Which is why when Fannin County Clerk Tammy Biggar recently learned that her county had received less than one dozen military applications, she was concerned.

She says the issue first presented itself in March when a man issued a complaint against Fannin County to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, indicating he had not received his primary ballot. But this year’s primary was moved to May due to redistricting. Biggar was put in touch with the man to resolve the issue.

“But that distressed me that he didn’t know that information - That they’re not getting that information out there. And so I had written to Congressman Ralph Hall and said ‘somebody needs to spearhead this to make sure our military is being updated. My gosh they’re putting their life on the line, but we’re not giving them information on how to vote?’”

She adds that any suspicion of an elections administrator trying to prevent the military vote couldn’t be further from the truth.

“So I thought well maybe I need to do something proactively to let people know that we’re not getting the response that we had hoped for, and we truly expect it from our military because they have high stakes involved in this.”

Identifying military participation in each county would help determine how many are or have yet to register to vote.

“That is the burning question,” Biggar says. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get that answer. And I don’t know the answer to it. Because that would at least give me an idea of how many we’re looking at.

We made contact with a local army recruiting station to find out how many of its active members are from Fannin County, but were told they don’t track that.

Biggar is encouraging friends and loved ones of military members to inform them of the accessibility to the absentee voting form. She points us to the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. The deadline to submit the application for approval is Oct. 30.

In neighboring Hunt County, over 100 military personnel have submitted applications to vote by mail.

“For our size county, I think we have a pretty good turnout,” says Mina Cook, elections administrator for Hunt County.

She offers links to their county website and the Texas Secretary of State’s website for information on how military and overseas voters can file an application to vote, plus details on the ballot and casting their vote.

Cook says that applications generally come in slowly throughout the year, but do speed up a bit a couple weeks ahead of the deadline, which again is Oct. 30. If you still need to register to vote, that deadline is Oct. 9. Here’s a list of other important dates for the November General Election.