Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Social Media Will Increase Military Voting

            In 2009 Congress responded to the minimal voter turnout in the 2008 elections with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE).  The act ensures that absent military service voters are informed of their voting rights, afforded the opportunity to register to vote, to include having their absentee ballots cast and counted.  However, the program comes with a substantial price tag, since a voter assistance office must be established at every post overseas and stateside.  The Department of Defense’s Inspector General Office (IG) estimates the investment to be around $15 to $20 million, but the return is a mere 53% of military individuals vote. 
           The dilemma is whether to revise the MOVE Act and create a more effective system or continue pouring millions of dollars into a program that is not producing results.  The decision is straightforward and a revision to the MOVE Act must occur in order to reach voters that cannot physically go to a voting assistance office.  The ability for deployed service members to ensure they are informed of their voting rights and allowed the opportunity to cast their vote should not cost millions of dollars.  
Fox News "Group warns of 'bleak'
 military voter participation despite Pentagon efforts"

           The acting director of the Federal Voter Assistance Program Pam Mitchell stated, "We use Twitter, we use Facebook, especially so that we can reach out to the largest military population … those 18-to24-or-25-year-olds." In the fiscally constrained environment that the military is currently operating under, it is indisputable that the MOVE Act must rely more heavily on social media in order to cut costs.  Therefore, the $15 to$20 million that is spent on voter assistance offices can be reallocated to other programs. 
            It is encouraging to learn that a government agency understands social media as the most effective method of reaching voters, especially those 18 to 24 years old, which comprises the largest section of the military population.  Too often, the uniformed services continue with programs that have a low success rate simply because change causes difficulties.  The IG office understands that deployed service members cannot simply go to a voter assistance office if it is located at a base that is not physically accessible.  The Military Overseas Voter Empowerment Act will be more efficient due to a staff that recognizes social media as the compelling entity to increased voter turnout.

1 comment:

  1. Admittedly, I am a skeptic, but your post made me reconsider a few aspects of social media. I think back to my brother-in-law's tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He definitely had access to skype and the Internet.

    I wonder if the military has data on the use and availability of the Internet among those serving. I have never served, and am admittedly ignorant, but I wonder if the typical service member has access.