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Letter to the Secretary of Defense on Voting by Servicemen.

April 16, 1952

Dear Mr. Lovett:

Attached is a copy of my Message to Congress, March 28, 1952, on the subject of voting by servicemen, along with the report of the Special Committee on Service Voting of the American Political Science Association. As you will see, the report makes a number of recommendations designed to strengthen the activities pertaining to soldier voting now being performed by the Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense is already working with State governments, and distributing to servicemen information on voting rights and procedures. The information and education program of the Defense Department has undertaken to provide servicemen with information about candidates and issues, and the necessity for voting. These activities of the Department are important, and as the report recommends, this program should be strengthened.

In carrying out its activities with relation to soldier voting, the Department of Defense is at present in touch with State officials concerning State legislation on servicemen's voting. It is important that officials in the States understand that action must be taken promptly to remedy defects in their State laws and procedures if servicemen from those States are to vote this year. I hope that you will continue to keep in touch with the States and the extent of progress which they make in improving soldier voting procedures. The extent of State action will determine whether or not it is necessary for Congress to enact Federal legislation in time to give the maximum number of servicemen the right to vote this year.

The report of the Committee includes recommendations which are aimed at establishing a permanent system for the improvement of soldier voting machinery, both in the Federal Government and in the States.

For this purpose, the report recommends that the Secretary of Defense report to Congress in January, 1953, and thereafter biennially on the extent to which the provisions and recommendations of the Servicemen's Voting Act have been executed by the respective States. The Committee report further recommends that the Secretary of Defense gather and publish certain statistical data relating to ballot applications, the number of executed ballots received, and the approximate number of servicemen of voting age in the armed forces from each State. These recommendations appear to have merit, and I hope you will consider them carefully, and determine what steps may be appropriate to carry them out.

From time to time, I hope you will report to me on the progress which is being made in the field of soldier voting. Only through continued and vigorous action can we make sure that the men and women of the armed forces will have the chance to exercise one of the great rights which they are now, in many cases, risking their lives to defend.

Sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Honorable Robert A. Lovett, The Secretary of Defense]

Note: See also Items 68, 124.

Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Secretary of Defense on Voting by Servicemen. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231709

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