Military Appreciation Month takes place every year throughout the entire month of May. It was officially designated by Congress in 1999. It’s a perfect opportunity to express gratitude to former and current members of the U.S. military. This year, especially as service members have worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we thank them for their service.
This month, we should also ensure that our loved ones who serve in the military are registered to vote and make their voices heard at the polls. There are at least two things that we can help with: motivation and voting logistics.
Motivation: While a 2018 report from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families finds that 57% of active duty military members vote in presidential, state and local elections, those who decide not to vote primarily do not for one of three reasons:
- They did not want to vote
- They had no candidate preference
- They were not interested in voting.
As voters, we know how important it is for everyone to get out to the polls to vote. Let’s convince members of the military that they should be interesting in voting! Military One Source lists why military members should vote, citing that elected officials often make decisions that affect military and veteran benefits. You can also check out CEEP’s resource on Combatting Cynicism for information that may help if you are talking with a member of the military who is on the fence about voting.
Voting Logistics: Most (if not all) active duty service members rely on absentee voting to cast their vote in elections while overseas, deployed, or while stationed in states other than where they are registered. Based on the same 2018 report, only 40% of military members surveyed felt it was easy to obtain voting information. If you know someone who is having trouble, direct them to the Federal Voting Assistance Program. On this program’s page, military members can select what state they plan to vote in, or learn how to vote absentee.
Remember that every voice counts, which includes our military. Do your part this month by encouraging members of the military to make their voices heard through voting.