(RALEIGH) -- Requests for absentee ballots from members of the military are down sharply this election year, compared to 2008. Some political observers say the Department of Defense is dragging its feet in enacting a law meant to boost military voting. John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation shares some of the numbers.
"In Ohio, around this same time -- 45 days out of the election -- in 2008, there were 32,334 requests for absentee ballots. This year there's only 9,707 [requests for absentee ballots]. That's down 70 percent."
A law passed after the 2008 presidential election requires ballots to be mailed to service men and women 45 days before the election, which was about two weeks ago. That's because military personnel frequently move," Malcolm explains, "or they get called away to combat, and it takes a long time for those ballots to be processed. And the fact that these ballots are not getting the assistance that the need at military bases is a travesty."
Malcolm says part of the blame falls on the Department of Defense, which is not fully staffing voter registration centers, as required by law.
"Having recognized that problem back in the second quarter of 2011, they should have taken immediate measure to fix that problem and they did not. It's very disrespectful to our men in women in uniform and defend our country."
The Air Force realized, last year, it was only staffing one-third of the military voting centers under the requirement. Malcolm says the problem can be found in all branches of the military.
"These are the people that keep us free. They put their lives on the line, and no one has a greater claim to participate in election than our servicemen. They are, after all, going to be electing a Commander in Chief."
In North Carolina, requests for absentee ballot requests, compared to numbers in 2008, are down 59 percent.