A local group concerned about low voter turnout in the state has ramped up efforts to get more veterans to the polls during the fall elections.
Since announcing the campaign during a meeting with The News-Star’s Editorial Board in April, Huey O'Neal has traveled across the state talking to organizations and working with others to encourage veterans to vote in the Nov. 4 election.
A volunteer nonpartisan committee of concerned veterans formed the group because they believe the country's leadership has become unresponsive to the people and fear for the future of the United States. The committee has concerns about the cuts to the military and failure of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide appropriate healthcare to veterans.
During the last midterm election, only 23 percent of registered voters participated despite Louisiana having some of the easiest methods to vote, O'Neal said.
“This causes bad government because if people don’t vote and speak up about their concerns they are not going to be recognized by those elected. Citizens must speak up and be heard to have good government,” O’Neal said.
The group is following The American Legion's "Get out the Vote" guidelines to encourage more veterans and their families to participate.
“We wanted to concentrate on veterans because they are the people who served our country and they need to continue to serve by voting,” O’Neal said. “We feel veterans need a bigger voice in government. They are the ones who put their lives on the line to protect this country. Veterans must vote so they have a stronger voice in our political system and help restore pride and love of country. Veterans have great pride in our country and they must continue to protect our freedoms by voting.”
A formal “Get out the Vote” kickoff ceremony will be held in front of the American Legion Post 13 in Monroe on Oct. 5 to highlight the importance of voting and create awareness for the need to vote. An official from The American Legion national headquarters in Indianapolis will speak durigy the rally to encourage veterans to vote.
Louisiana is one of the easiest states to register to vote, accepting several forms of identification, O’Neal said. Residents can register 30 days before an election. On the Secretary of State's website people can register to vote, change their address and party, get sample ballots, find out where to vote and get election dates and early voting dates.
Residents over 65 may request a mailed ballot.