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Texas Making Voting Easier For Deployed Military Members

Chris Eudaily | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio

Texas is making it easier for troops to vote by simplifying the process in a new effort dubbed 'Boots and Ballots.'

Senior Airman Brittany Bohn said last year she thought she was registered in Texas, but found out at the last minute her voter registration was in Indiana. She wants her vote to count.

"I don't want to say that voting gets put on the back burner, but it does," Bohn said.

Email ballots and simpler forms have already made voting easier.

"We've got a lot that are registered, but we can always improve," said Texas Secretary of State John Steen, who spoke with military personnel at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. "And so we're just doing everything we can to make sure everybody that's eligible to vote gets registered."

Keith Ingram, the director of the elections division in Steen's office, said last year 35 percent of military personnel in Texas requested a ballot, but sometimes the ballot isn't filled out correctly or signed. Of those who requested a ballot, 61 percent returned were counted.

"It is much better than 2010," Ingram said. "[In] 2010, there were about 49,000 ballots requested and only about 12,000 of them returned and counted."

Ingram said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte's military voting bill, the Federal Military Overseas Empowerment Act, is encouraging voting among troops. He said the next goal is to simplify voting even more while still preserving ballot integrity.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.