Election 1944: Yanks too busy fighting to worry about politics (11-1-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 1, 1944)


Yanks too busy fighting to worry about politics

Little election talk at front, reporter says; finds Dewey does not lack supporters
By B. J. McQuaid

With British 2nd Army, Holland –
U.S. troops fighting in this part of Holland have been too busy the last few days holding off big-scale German counterattacks to pay much attention to politics. Some, however, are still taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to use the federal ballot to express their presidential preferences up to the hour of polling in the United States Nov. 7.

Voting officers of the American units in the British sector say that no accurate record has been kept of the numbers who have voted, but they believe that more than 50 percent have done so.

It would make an interesting report to canvass some of the soldiers who are now involved in bitter fighting, for their opinions of the candidates, but there is a stiffly-worded federal statute which prohibits questioning any member of the Armed Forces as to whom he intends to vote for, or has voted for.

This statute, which was called to my attention by the voting officers, was passed by this Congress. It specifically bans questioning along this line for the purpose of newspaper or radio reporting.

There is relatively little discussion of the election among troops in the forward areas, but from what I have overheard, it appears that the condition I encountered last June, when I interviewed a group of paratroopers who were about to jump on D-Day and found them solidly for President Roosevelt, has undergone some changes. In the few discussions I have heard, Governor Dewey does not lack supporters.

Arguments follow conventional lines. Roosevelt supporters are urging the retention of the midstream horse, and decrying Governor Dewey’s presumed lack of experience in military and world problems, while Dewey supporters deplore indefinite multiplication terms for one President, and insist that the war is now in such a stage that it is certain to be won, no matter who is President.

Some disappointment

There is some spirit of disappointment among soldiers, as among civilians at home, that the war, which many had hoped would fold up before November, now seems likely to go into and perhaps through the winter. But most votes here were already cast before this became clear. It is doubtful whether it would influence political preference much in any case.

Army regulations stringently ban electioneering, and there almost certainly has been nothing of that character. The effort continues to bring out the soldier vote, in the sense that voting officers, who have been appointed for all units down to company units, are more or less constantly urged to make sure that every soldier knows of his right to vote, and is fully acquainted with the machinery by which he can make his vote count.