Protecting Military Voting: A Blue Star Mom Speaks Out

My name is Betty Boren Avery, and I am a Republican precinct chairman (an unpaid elected position).

I will be serving as an election judge this November 2. To do so, I attend the mandatory secretary of state election law training and the required clerical training (every seven months) on how to assemble and disassemble the electronic voting equipment, do the paperwork, etc. Also, I am a volunteer deputy voter registrar and have attended the training on how to complete the voter registration form for the state of Texas for the past several years.

In other words: I am trained and I know what I am doing. I follow the law and swear in my clerks each election to uphold the “purity” of the election.

I am also a Blue Star Mom, with a son currently deployed to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne. He is a registered voter and deserves the right to vote. He does not have to vote, but he should have the choice to vote and should have a ballot sent to him on time.

I have listened to the Department of Defense describe the military post card procedures. I have also reviewed the website for military voting, and I found and provided the “Registration and Absentee Ballot Request -- Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)” form for my son and for other military service members. My son completed the form on one of his visits home from his home post of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and it was signed and dated with additional information to be completed. The APO address is to be provided later by the soldier or parents.

This form seemed self-explanatory. People do not know their APO address until they are deployed or until just before they are deployed, and this was my son’s first deployment: he is 20 years old.

My experience trying to change his registration to an APO address with the Harris County Voter Registration Department was interesting. I contacted the head of the elections department, and was told that they could not help me -- I had to talk to the mail ballot staff. I called them, and the person I spoke to was hesitant -- they wanted to talk to my son. I tried to explain that this was not possible, as he had just left for Afghanistan and I had no contact with him.