Election 1944: Soldier Voting Act broken, Navy officials admit (7-29-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (July 29, 1944)


Soldier Voting Act broken, Navy officials admit

Marked federal ballots received in violation of Oct. 2 deadline set by Congress

Washington (UP) –
The Navy Department acknowledged today that a few marked federal ballots have been received from naval personnel overseas in violation of the Oct. 2 deadline set forth in the Soldier Voting Act.

The Navy said it has mailed some sealed federal ballots overseas but that no ballots have been distributed within the United States. Those shipped overseas, it said, were plainly marked “not to be opened until or after Oct. 2.” These instructions were apparently ignored, it added, and a few ballots opened and returned to home states.

Probe demanded

The Navy statement was issued after California Secretary of State Frank M. Jordan charged that some California servicemen overseas had been issued federal ballots for the November election without being given an opportunity to use state ballots.

Republican National Committeeman Raymond Haight of Los Angeles called for a Congressional investigation. He said:

On the basis of the facts available, it is too early to conclude how much is fraud and how much is stupidity. In any event, our Armed Forces are the victims.

The War Department said ballots have been received prematurely in Iowa, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and California. Investigation, however, showed that none was marked by Army personnel, he said.

To get another chance

The Navy Judge Advocate General’s Office said an inquiry had determined that the men who had mailed ballots prematurely may be given another chance to vote, since the ballots already received cannot be counted.

A total of 7,600,000 federal ballots were printed, of which 3,800,000 are for the Army, 3,400,000 for the Navy and 400,000 for the War Shipping Administration. The Soldier Voting Act provides that they are to be distributed only to servicemen unable to obtain ballots from their home states. In no case are they to be distributed prior to Oct. 2.