Today is Veterans Day, a day to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. According to the U.S. Census, 14.7 million veterans voted in the 2012 presidential election; 70% of veterans cast a ballot in that election, compared with 61.8% of all eligible voters. In 2010, 12.4 million veterans cast ballots; 57% of veterans voted in that election, compared with 45.5% of all eligible voters.
As a way to honor our nation’s veterans, many states have developed programs that allow voters to dedicate their vote to a specific service member.
Maine’s Vote in Honor of a Veteran program was created in 2000 and includes a collection of tributes to veterans, Maine Remembers Those Who Served, which covers 250 years of contributions of servicemen and women in all branches of the military. New tributes can be added to the book’s online version. Voters can also request a button–“I’m voting in Honor of a Veteran”–which is personalized with the name of a veteran the voter wants to recognize. In 2000, over 10,000 citizens honored someone who had served, or is serving, in the military. This year, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap honored a different veteran every day for the 30 days prior to the November 4th election on the Department’s Facebook page.
In 2008 North Carolina launched its Voting in Honor of a Veteran Program, which provides North Carolina citizens an opportunity to “pay tribute to those that have served, and continue to serve.” In the first year over 2,000 Veterans were honored. Voters can request a free personalized pin and share a story.
Ohio’s Vote in Honor of a Veteran initiative allows Ohio voters to pay tribute to the service of individual service members, past and present, by dedicating their votes to them on Election Day. Voters can post a testimonial on the Secretary of State’s website and social media sites, and receive a special pin to wear on Election Day.
In addition to honoring veterans and current service members, states are also working to ensure that active military voters can participate, wherever they are stationed. Many states have specific programs or websites that consolidate relevant materials and information for service members. The Federal Voting Assistance Program has a specific section for military voters. Nonprofits like the Military Voter Protection Program and its Heroes Vote initiative are also working to help military voters register, request an absentee ballot, and vote, regardless of their location.
This Veterans Day, consider honoring a veteran with your vote or helping ensure a current service member is registered to vote.