Ballots are full speed ahead

Issues like the failing U.S. economy, health care and Iraq can seem a world away when cruising the western Pacific's balmy waters.

But neither the ocean nor the long distance from home will keep petty officer Justin Carlisle from voting in the upcoming presidential elections.

Stung by criticism that it was hard for military personnel to vote in the last presidential elections – and get their ballots home in time to be counted – the Navy has made a concentrated effort this year to assure that every sailor who wants to can cast a ballot.

“It was easy,” Carlisle said, standing in the hangar bay of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. “It took some time for my ballot to find me. But then I just filled it out and sent it off in the ship's mail.”

Lt. Commander Chuck Le Moyne, who serves as the ship's elections officer, said interest in next month's elections is high among the crew of the carrier.

For sailors who want to participate in the elections, a carrier is not a bad place to be.

Unlike some smaller warships, the carrier has regular mail flights, making it easier to get absentee ballots on board, and to send them off in time to make deadlines back home.

The military has also taken extra steps this year to publicize the elections, airing public service advertisements explaining the registration process and assigning officers like Le Moyne to getting the word out.