Election 1944: G.I. poll may decide vote (8-24-44)

Reading Eagle (August 24, 1944)


G.I. poll may decide vote

Election outcome may not be sure until Dec. 7
By Edward Creagh

New York (AP) –
Because 11 states will not count their soldier votes on Election Day, Nov. 7, it is possible that the outcome of the 1944 presidential election will remain in doubt for several weeks after the polls close.

Should the election be unusually close, the winner might not be known until as late as Dec. 7, when the canvass of Nebraska’s absentee vote could determine whether the state’s seven electoral votes would be cast for President Roosevelt or Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

These possibilities grow out of an Associated Press survey which indicates that more than 2,000,000 men and women in the Armed Forces have applied for absentee ballots and that, by the most conservative estimates of state election officials, approximately twice that number will vote in November.

The soldier vote is likely to be decisive in most of the 11 states which do not immediately tabulate it, and the 11 – including Pennsylvania with 36, California with 22 and Missouri with 15 – have a combined electoral vote of 116. President Wilson’s electoral margin over Charles Evans Hughes in 1916 was only 23.

In Pennsylvania, where officials expect 200,000 to 300,000 soldier ballots, the absentee vote will be counted Nov. 22. “The votes of 100,000 to 125,000 persons could easily swing a close election,” commented a member of Governor Edward Martin’s official family. “We may not know who has won until the absentee votes are counted.”

California, whose Secretary of State predicts a service vote of 175,000 to 200,000, will not canvass it until Nov. 24. Missouri, receiving more than 1,000 ballot applications daily, will start counting absentee votes the Friday after Election Day.

Of the states which will defer their soldier vote count, eight gave President Roosevelt a total of 99 electoral votes in 1940. The other three gave Wendell L. Willkie 17.

Besides Nebraska, Pennsylvania, California and Missouri, the states which will add up some or all of their soldier votes after Election Day are:

Colorado 6 November 22
Delaware 3 November 9
Florida 7 November 17
North Dakota 4 December 5
Rhode Island 4 December 4
Utah 4 November 27
Washington 8 November 27

Florida’s canvassing boards usually meet the Friday after election although the law gives them until Nov. 17. Utah counts state ballots on Election Day but federal ballots may be counted until Nov, 12 and would not be shown in the total count until the official canvass, Nov. 27.