Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is in the Middle East this week meeting with U.S. military men and women. The trip hosted by the U.S. Navy and the Federal Voting Assistance Program, will include visits to military installations, U.S. embassies and naval ships in Kuwait and Qatar.
“We must ensure that the men and women protecting this country by serving overseas can vote on Election Day,” Johnson said in a statement. “Not just in federal elections, but in local and state elections that really matter to them and their families back home.”
Johnson is overseas with the secretaries of state from Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Nevada, to discuss ways to streamline voting for military personnel.
“We don’t like to get in the car and drive for 10 to 15 minutes and stand in line for 15 minutes,” Johnson said in a release. “Just think when you’re over on this side of the world.”
Johnson has already made inroads making voting simpler for troops.
In 2009, as Oakland County Clerk, she founded Operation: Our Troops Count with the Wayne and Macomb county clerks, allowing ballots to be securely emailed to voters serving overseas.
Minority Democrats in the state Senate also introduced legislation this week to make it easier for men and women serving internationally to vote.
The new bills, submitted by Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Senate Democrats, would allow ballots of deployed military to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, and would also allow them to submit ballots electronically.
“No voter should be unduly disenfranchised, let alone our men and women in the military, and this legislation will protect our service members’ votes. While they are serving our country overseas, they should not lose their voice over here,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Johnson said in a release she has great pride in the U.S. military, working in harsh conditions far from their families.
“I don’t know how they do it,” she said. “Many of them have volunteered to be here. They know it’s in our best interest nationally. They take great pride and they are true patriots.”
Johnson said the trip has only made her commitment to these men and women stronger.
“I can’t think of anybody more deserving than the people serving this country than to have their vote count,” Johnson said.