Military Voters Deserve a Mail Ballot

I am a United States Army veteran who served on active duty for five years, including a 14-month deployment to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. And I am a voter.

This year, Colorado lawmakers can pass a bill that will protect the right to vote for active military overseas. If a member of the military misses one general election, he or she is placed on an "inactive, failed to vote" (IFTV) list. That means a mail ballot will not be automatically sent to them.

Current laws have the potential to disenfranchise Colorado's military voters. Opponents of HB 1267 say that, as a failsafe, any voter can pick up a ballot from their county clerk's office. A soldier walking a combat patrol in Afghanistan, as I did in 2007, does not have the ability to swing by their county clerk's office for a ballot.

HB 1267 will remedy this problem by ensuring Colorado service members and their families receive voting information wherever they serve on behalf of their country and ensure they are not designated as IFTV.

The right to vote and the act of voting is the very heart of our democracy. It is what ties us together as Coloradans and Americans. To make it any more difficult for our bravest men and women, who are the bravest in a generations-long line of patriots pledged to defend our way of life, is simply morally objectionable.

The ifs, ands and buts of what puts a voter on the IFTV list can be litigated ad nauseum. But to me, as a combat veteran, we should be guided by one simple principle. If a service member who defends with his or her life the right to vote is registered, we should send them a ballot. Any statute that runs afoul of that principle is immoral.