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The story about the registration web site run by the Pentagon was actually widely reported in the U.S. media as well. I saw an article about it in the New York Times back in September. Here is another link to an article by the International Herald Tribune:

Pentagon blocks site for voters outside U.S. (International Herald Tribune)

Here's an article on salon.com:

The Pentagon doesn't want you to vote overseas (Salon.com)

This all happened about a month ago, so did you guys just find out about this or are you running out of material?

Come on guys, the quality of this blog lately seems to be in a free fall. What's going on??

Note from David: Anonymus: Neither the IHT article nor the Salon article exhibit the sinister conspiracy hypothesis of the SPON article. That's the topic of Ray's posting. In his article Ray does not inquire about malfunctioning web sites but asks: "Where your efforts to vote blocked or frustrated? Is there a campaign of voter suppression going on out there? And if you are a soldier stationed in Germany, please let us know if you are being "indoctrinated by the Bush-Murdoch right-wing media" and truly "cut off from the outside world" as SPON portrays you."

As to your concern that "the quality of this blog lately seems to be in a free fall": don't worry about that. Visitors stats prove our blog's amazing success.

Of course, we cannot guarantee for the quality of some comments...

Wow, I hope those brainwashed GIs never find out about the Internet! They might be able to hear the truth from the NY Times!

Has SPON ever heard of broadband?
There is a emphasis on the vote. But unlike Stateside 527s, absolutely no pressure to vote for A or B.
Same crap I get with "oh, you joined the military to pay for school, poor dear."
Wrong. I joined because "this, I will defend."

What's going on at this blog. It used to be so successful in showing the bias in the German media. But now it's content reads like the bush re-election web site.
How can you guys critisize the bias in the German media when you don't have a neutral point of view yourself?

Yeah, it seems like this blog has turned into a G.O.P. campaign blog.

Ray D., the hard-core Republican activist who has hijacked this blog, seems to be running the show now.

David has been demoted to a sidekick role. When David used to run this blog it had a much higher quality. (OK, David, I guess you have to jump in now and defend Ray, but I guess most readers probably agree with me that Ray is more of a liability than an asset to this blog.)

Hey Ray, why don't you start your own blog!

Another important note: Being pro-Kerry, and thus anti-Bush, is not anti-American. I won't deny that there is an anti-American bias in the German media, however using this fact to characterize all criticism of Dubya as anti-American is really disingenuous.

But you can't expect fair and balanced reporting from a G.O.P. activist such as Ray D., right?

So keep whining about the Guardian in Great Britian, which is just as off-topic as writing letters to George Soros, who is not a member of the German media either.

Phil, you apparently didn't notice anything to objectionable in the SPON article. ???

I had trouble getting through, too. I never gave it much thought because there are so many other ways to get an absentee ballot. Then, I read about why (the site was administered by the Pentagon, I think, and it got caught up in their efforts to combat hacking, which is understandable in a time of war -- Unfortunate? Yes. Intelligent? Probably not. But no conspiracy. More like typical govt bureaucracy than anything else.). Ironically, the article I read mentioned an alternate site (no pun intended) run by the Democrats. I used that site (it's run by the Dems, but anyone can use it), got my ballot, and have cast my vote. No problem.

As to the other issue: I get AFN (Armed Forces Network) over the air where I live. There are lots of commercials encouraging people to vote, but absolutely no mention of who to vote for. Certainly, individuals up and down the chain of command might favor one candidate or the other. But, I've seen no evidence whatsoever that there is official military endorsement of any candidate. Any claim otherwise is nonsense.

This all just seems to me like people are getting their excuses lined up for when they wind up on the losing end of the issue.

What are you "critical readers" talking about? This blog is the same today as it was a year ago. If you all the sudden can't handle it or upsets you, go somewhere else. And here's some news for you, Blogs are normally opinionated and biased - yeah, who would have thought.

SIS, I absolutely agree. That's in fact the great thing about blogs. They don't pretend to be perfectly objective, like the "old media" do. Nobody is objective. But when journalists pretend they are, they must be held to a higher standard. If SPON openly admitted: We are anti-Bush, we are anti-American, we are anti-Israel etc. pp., so please keep that in mind when you read us - it would be ok. But as long as they are Germany's leading news site and pretend to be objective, and as long as hundreds of thousands of readers probably believe they are objectively and fully informed after reading SPON, it's not ok.

And to all American Democrats and Bush-critics: The questions Ray is raising about the treatment of the GOP in the German media should concern you as well, no matter what party you prefer. Spiegel Online is systematically trying to criminalize the GOP and its supporters. This is absolutely inacceptable for a news service that claims to be balanced. It may (or most probably may not) hurt Bush that the Europeans and their media are so strongly against him. But you can't be happy about that if it means criminalizing fifty percent of Americans and respecting you Democrats only so long as the politician you support does what Europeans like.

And what I particularly don't understand is your criticism of this article. Come on, Ray is just asking Medienkritik readers to share their experience with voting outside of the US to find out whether SPON's allegations are legitimate or not. Where's the problem?

The DOD site is a federal ballot only, the state can't count it because there are no state officials selected. This ensures that the military who "make voting possible in a free society" will have their votes counted (before they cast their last vote for freedom).

I received my absentee ballot without any problem. Unfortunately, I've waited too long to send it (but my state is a shoo-in for the Democrats, not a swing state).

This is now the the 4th presidential election in which I've voted since coming to Germany, and thanks to the FVAP website, it was never easier to arrange for my absentee ballot than it was in 2004. Of course, I made my arrangements back in January in order to vote in the Arizona primary. Having done that, my ballot for the general election was automatically sent to me this month. And just to make sure, the Democratic National Committee sent me a Federal Write-In Ballot to use just in case I received to official ballot.

Even in September, when I saw the first stories about this, I had no problems reaching fvap.gov.

One thing about the SPON article... they don't say when this hypothetical American in Munich was having problems getting regisitered. If he had never voted before, as stated in the article says, the deadline for registration in most states was at the beginning of October. He's coming to the party way too late.

Just wondering, how do Germans abroad make arrangements to vote in elections at home? During our years in the States, my wife never received any of the official notification cards that she does here. But that was before Al Gore invented the Internet. Does the German government have a website similar to fvap.org for German voters?

My guess is that SPON received word from the Democrat National Committee and their Election Day Manual. The DNC urges its people to charge "voter suppression" even when none exists, ie to launch a pre-emptive strike. Gee whiz, then SPON launches a pre-emptive charge of voter suppression. I guess they just want to get in on the fun.

Hey Wuldorblogger and Sleepy,

Thank you for your comments, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Did you notice how much ire has been directed at me and this site ever since I took on George Soros? After we did the Soros thing suddenly we have all of these "critical" voices in our comments section telling us how our site is super biased and falling apart, etc., etc. Boy, our stats sure don't reflect that, we are having our best month ever and are on course to smash the 100,000 visitor mark for the second month in a row. If this is "falling apart" I can't wait until we are really successful!

And I guess it is much easier to smear us with labels and name-calling than it is to actually argue the merits of what we are saying. I am asking our expat readers and military in Germany if any of what SPON is saying is true? What is biased about that? I'm just asking them to confirm or deny what we are reading in the German media. Perfectly legitimate. I'd still like to hear what they have to say on this...

---Ray D.

@ PapaScott:

Good point. Apparently this person was a first time voter. I would still like to know if you folks think this is a widespread problem, if the charges of voter suppression among expats leveled by SPON have any merit? And I'd like to hear from military folks in Germany...are you all really as "isolated" and "indoctrinated" as SPON would have us believe?

---Ray D.

@Ray D: Congrats on your visitor numbers. You and David have a great blog, I can't get enough. Quick question on your readers, can you give a breakdown on where they come from? Deutschland, Amiland, Rest-Welt?

This report is complete rubbish. One can order voting materials online, from an embassy or consulate, or get materials fom a US military unit. Too bad SPON did not interview any Americans, or better yet, interview a unit's voting assistance officer.

The Pentagon website is only an adjunct to the hundreds of sources available to expat Americans.

Did that supposed American in Munich go to the consulate? They would have provided him everything he needed.

Once again, since the hated stereotype is all they need, why bother with facts?

Hi Guys,

keep on doing what you are doing. This is a very fine Blog. And one of the best I might say.

Good God, these a-holes are an insulting lot!

I'm an expat living in Canada. I sent in my absentee ballot earlier this month and, because voting is important to me, didn't wait until the last minute to become registered but made sure I was properly on the rolls and that they had my new address as I've moved residences since 2000.

The web site maintained by the Pentagon is to enable GIs to vote. What US civilian abroad doesn't know to go through the State Dept. to maintain ties with our country? They would put anyone who asked in touch with the proper agency in their state so they could register.

I saw the articles in the NY Times last month (it contained numerous inaccuracies) and the Washington Post online provided form for absentee voters one could print, fill out and snail mail in, but as I asserted above, those of us who care about our country recognize the importance of voting and don't let our voter registration lapse.

If I may briefly opine, these accusations are being levied in order to convince the world that Bush "stole" the election come Nov. 4.

Can we all say "poor losers?" Of course we can.

Sorry I sound so cranky. Living in Canada has been somewhat hard lately, although it must be much more so living in Germany.

When I voted from Germany, absentee ballot forms were available, with instructions, at the education center. Of course, the ed center was one base, tourists didn't hang out there.

It's probably changed but AFRTS didn't show "Fox." AFRTS bought programming from distributers in the US. They got shows from all networks, not just one. Shows that didn't have a foreign following were cheap and therefore that crud was on AFRTS. Expensive shows were sold cheap after the first 2 tiers had them. Tier 1 was the US market. Tier 2 was foreign. You could receive the popular programs on German TV before AFRTS got anywhere near them.

I didn't watch a lot of TV. Duty called. But none of this will matter if the US pulls the troops. As to the whiners commenting at the top of the thread, your English is pretty good. Native I'd say. This blog is free. You're free to go elsewhere if you don't like the content. http://www.google.com. Enter "loser central" and hit the "I'm feeling lucky button." Maybe you'll find a home.

Complete BS. I work on an Army post--in Wurzburg. AFN carries, as well as Fox, NPR. Our PX is currently stocked with Moore's rantings and ravings on DVD. There is also a federal law, the Hatch Act, which proscribes electioneering by federal employees and soldiers. This is just quatsch. Spiegel just can't believe that intelligent voters can vote for Bush of their own free will.

Hey Jabba,

It depends on the time of day, but generally we have 25-40% of our readers in Europe, 40-50% in North America and 5-15% elsewhere.

---Ray D.

I worked for several years on an American military installation in Germany, and have now worked for several years for a German institution (no longer associated with the military). I ordered my ballot by mail several weeks ago, and it arrived promptly. I filled it out and sent it back. It was no problem whatsoever.

Part of the problem with obtaining ballots may involve a certain subgroup of Americans whose ties to the U.S. are tenuous. There are many American citizens (passport holders might be a better term), who have never set foot in America and speak little or no English. I'm not certain what their voting status is, but I can imagine that it might be difficult to verify their eligibility, determine the state they are voting in and to get a ballot to them.

BTW, this blog is great. Coverage of America by the German media is hysterical. I can't believe some of the garbage I see and hear.

I'd honestly recomend deleting postings, which are "off-topic". I was interested in answers to the questions in the posting. So I don't wanna read through a bunch of wanko postings if this blog is biased or not.

trouble voting absantee?? Nope, not al all. If you're registered, you get your ballots. I've got ours from the County I last lived in the US, no problem. People should really try to keep alive without the computer, an old habbit almost forgotten it seems.
By the way, Ray: You're right on, just forget the whiners.

Hi -

Expat yank, been in Germany for 21 of the last 24 years.

Voted in every election held in DC, last place of residence. Never had a problem getting the papers on time, especially now when you can fax things on-line and get PDF forms.

I listen all the time to AFN AM in the Frankfurt area. On the on hand you've got the first hour of Limbaugh, followed by Dr. Laura and then the rest of the evening is NPR. So there is 1 hour of conservative talk radio, 45 minutes of conservative moralizing in the form of a dialogue between a psychiatrist and a huge number of people who really are good at screwing up their lives, followed by 4 hours of NPR at its sanctimonious best.

So it's balanced: it takes about 4 hours of NPR to balance one of Limbaugh. :-)

There are lots of public service announcements inbetween, where radio ads would otherwise be. Right now there are lots of "Vote!" ads, which is fine. Otherwise, no political activity whatsoever.

And one of the other commentors here pointed out that the anti-americanism here in Germany is hysterical: I can only agree. It's not just Bush-bashing (which at times is absurd in its inaccuracies...), but a more deeply-rooted problem.


Just for fun: you guys may want to check out TGOM blog "Drink this". She is a strong republican in California and she discovered that someone tried to hijack her identy for voting. She was just fast enough in voting early, hence she discovered that. Otherwise it could have happened that she would have been arested while trying to vote because it would have appeared that she tried to vote twice. And whoever hijacked her ID registered her as a Democrat..... the insult of it!


im a "passport holder", born in New York, moved to europe one year after my birth.
i speak english fluently and have been on vacation many times in the US.
no trouble receiving my ballot material.

@ A Critical Reader

"Ray D., the hard-core Republican activist who has hijacked this blog, seems to be running the show now."

Looks like George Soros didn't appreciate getting slam-dunked in his recent online "debate" with Ray. No matter, if you're a multi-zillionaire, you can just send a few moonbat flunkies like "A Critical Reader" to launch ad hominem attacks. No need to debate substance if you're good at name calling, right George?

As for the question asked in the post, you really have to laugh. I can just see SPIEGEL's "highly motivated Kerry voter" Philip Sutherland breaking down in tears because he couldn't register to vote on the Pentagon's website. Waaaahhh!! Poor baby, the evil military brass must have deleted access to Google from his browser while he was out working for Siemens. Otherwise he would have noticed that his city, state, county, party, and about a zillion other websites would have been glad to spoon feed him his voter registration. Funny, I had no trouble registering to vote in Germany in the 70's, and that was before (gasp!) anyone even had a personal computer. "Motivated voters" like Phil just applied for an absentee ballot via snailmail, and, believe it or not, in those anti-deluvian, pre-Internet days, their ballots were duly delivered and they still managed to vote! I wonder why that recourse never occurred to "motivated voter" Phil. Was his butt screwed to the ground? Did all the county clerks in the USA suddenly die, and no one told me?? If so, SPIEGEL didn't mention it. I guess I'll just have to write it off as another example of biased journalism.

Like Philip Sutherland, I am an American living in the Munich area (since 1999).

Unlike Philip Sutherland, I experienced no difficulty in securing absentee ballots for this year's election. Neither did my wife, nor did my two daughters (age 20 and 18) have a problem in registering for the first time and voting absentee. Nor did anyone else in my (fairly large) circle of American friends and contacts.

The U.S. Consulate in Munich was very helpful, and several other organizations (both partisan and non-partisan) were eager to offer assistance. In our church (with about 100 American voters) we even had a representative from one group come to assist interested expats.

It's not hard.

In spite of Philip's complaint, I see no evidence of some conspiracy to deny the right to vote to Americans living abroad.

I note that the SPON article included no interaction with or quotations from officials in organizations, assistance bureaus, consulates or embassies.

Amazingly though, they exercised media omniscience to discern the unspoken and unpublished (and most likely untrue) thoughts of George W. Bush: "Den amtierenden Präsidenten wird es freuen." This is truly amazing journalism with crystal ball.

Oh, by the way. Having secured information from www.fvap.gov and printing my PDF forms, I sent them by snail mail. They arrived faster than Mr. Sutherland's 96 hour fax marathon. And, with the time difference between the US and Germany, it's a good idea to fax early in the morning CET, while most of America sleeps.

Use Google to find posts in the extremely Google friendly forum, in Munich
where many expats before have struggled to find answers to the dull
pain of culture shock or having to deal with officialdom:

Take the KVR for instance, the place where you must register as a foreigner:
Bypass white noise and retrieve your answers in an instant:
the method is this:
keyword site: toytownmunich.com
in this case
kvr site:toytownmunich.com

krauts site:toytownmunich.com
German women site:toytownmunich.com
or enter

have fun!

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