Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Ballot finally reaches soldier
Butler Co. board faxes absentee form
By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer
HAMILTON - Butler County elections officials scrambled Monday to make sure a Hamilton soldier serving halfway around the world could vote absentee.
Army Capt. Gregory P. Henz had complained to county commissioners by e-mail that he had not received the ballot he applied for April 21.
"I have become very concerned and disgruntled ... because this is a time critical for our country, as elections are upon us," Henz wrote in his e-mail.
As it turned out, the military postal system failed to deliver Henz the absentee ballot sent Oct. 2 to his military address by the Butler County Board of Elections, said Betty McGary, the deputy director of the election board.
McGary spent most of Monday trying to figure out where Henz was stationed. She eventually located him in Weisbaden, Germany, and transmitted a new ballot to him through the Pentagon's voting assistance program.
"We had sent him absentee ballot No. 2,662 on Oct. 2. We took care of all the military (absentee) applications and people overseas on the first day we could," McGary said.
Under the federal program, the Defense Department faxes the ballot to a soldier at a special number and helps the officer return it to the proper elections official in the United States, McGary said. Henz must vote and sign the ballot Nov. 2 and get it back to the elections board by Nov. 12, she said.
Before involving the elections board, Commissioner Michael A. Fox had proposed buying an airline ticket - for $4,000 to $8,000 - for a county employee to deliver the ballot personally to Army commanders in Kuwait City. The plan - which would have required another commissioner's support - was abandoned after McGary contacted the Defense Department.
In a follow-up e-mail, Henz said he was in Germany "after previously returning from down range." He did not say where he had been stationed before that.
"I apologize for the confusion in terms of my location, as our forces are spread across overseas," Henz said.
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