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Soldiers Paying Close Attention To Presidential Race

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Many people are interested in the presidential candidates' plans for the military, especially the troops themselves. The U.S. Department of Defense says 2.7 million Americans are either on active duty, in the National Guard or in the reserves. According to some Web sites, more than 80 percent voted in the last presidential election.

In a town like Fayetteville, politics and the armed forces go hand in hand. It is common to see signs mentioning both the military and a candidate.

"It's important to care. You have to," Spc. Blake Graham said.

According to the

Army Times

, a popular newspaper among soldiers, President George W. Bush is the clear favorite. The Army Times surveyed 4,000 soldiers. Those on active duty picked Bush with 72 percent of the vote. Sen. John Kerry got 17 percent. Those in the Reserves and National Guard gave Bush 73 percent of the vote and Kerry received 18 percent.

For troops, the next president will have a big impact on their lives.

"It's just a big deal to us who we vote for because that's our only say -- our only course of action on what's been going on lately," said Spc. Josh Meismer.

Many soldiers said they care less about the candidates' military experience and more about their plans for those in uniform -- issues like pay raises, stop loss orders and deployments.

Most units in the military have voting assistance officers -- people who help troops register to vote. Many installations, such as Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, post signs and print advertisements urging people to take part in elections.


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