Published in Tampa Bay Times: 6 May 2021
Link to the Letter
I am an American veteran, born and raised right here in Florida. Since then, I’ve deployed six times to Iraq and Afghanistan, earning two Bronze Stars throughout 18 years of service. Veterans like me across this nation have fought to protect and defend the American ideals we hold dear — like the right to vote, and a free and fair election. To thank us for our service, Gov. Ron DeSantis just made it harder for more than 100,000 Florida service members to vote. While I was overseas, and while I’ve continued my service at various bases across the country, I have voted by mail every single time.
Florida has allowed absentee voting for veterans, seniors, military families and those in need for more than 20 years, with zero issues. Despite a lack of evidence, the governor now clamors to solve a problem that non-partisan experts and the courts say does not exist. Early and absentee voting are relied upon by voters across party lines, and these policies will have a disparate impact on military voters. It is crucial that we count the votes of our service members and veterans — and all Floridians who vote by absentee mail ballot. Our leaders shouldn’t be trying to make it harder for any person — but especially veterans — to vote.
Will Atkins, Port Richey
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Air Force veteran, writing about the intersection of domestic policy and national security, especially as it effects his home state of Florida.