Should Military Officers Abstain From Voting? This Major Thinks So

Should Military Officers Abstain From Voting? This Major Thinks So
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hughes)

Election Day is Nov. 6 and some pollsters predict a 50-year high in voter turnout.

During the 2016 election cycle, an op-ed by one Army major generated quite a bit of buzz when it was published by the New York Times: I Fight for Your Right to Vote. But I Won't Do It Myself.

The author, Maj. M.L. Cavanaugh, reasoned that active-duty officers should abstain from voting. He believes, “There's no quicker way to extinguish inflammatory political small talk than to say, 'I'm a military officer; I don't vote.'”

He goes on to mention a list of notable officers who abstained from voting while serving in uniform, including Gens. George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George S. Patton.

When we first shared the article in 2016, a large majority of our members disagreed with Cavanaugh's opinion.

We again share Cavanaugh's opinion piece, not to provide an endorsement of his position, but as a way to share one officer's thoughts and to spark conversation among our members.

As a grassroots advocacy organization, MOAA strongly encourages all citizens to participate in the democratic process. We believe voting serves as the cornerstone of any well-functioning democracy.

For over 240 years, military officers have served to protect that right. In fact, we've tried to make it easier for people to vote by working with our friends at the Democracy Fund to promote our Absentee Voter Guide to ensure that every servicemember and retiree has the ability to vote.