By Army Sgt. David Hodge
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 6, 2008 - Two Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers streamlined the voting process for hundreds of servicemembers and civilians here Oct. 3-5. Army Sgts. Asa Rubman and Rachel Littenberg, paralegal specialists assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, said they noticed some apathy among soldiers toward voting in the November general elections and decided to spearhead a voting drive.
"It started out with me being annoyed with the system," said Rubman, a native of Watertown, Conn. "I registered and tried to get my ballot in May and it never came, so I started putting up flyers in case other people didn't get theirs."
The flyers posted throughout the brigade headquarters building enticed other soldiers to stop by the legal office and take 10 minutes to exercise their right to vote.
Even after posting flyers, the two decided they were not reaching out to enough soldiers and decided to take the advice of Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bobb, the brigade's senior enlisted leader, and set up a table inside the dining facility.
"People normally have a block of time set aside when they go to chow, so it is easier for them to register to vote then and just eat their grilled cheese a little faster," Rubman said.
The duo gave soldiers the opportunity to vote in the dining facility for three days, spending six hours a day there while work piled up back at the office. They also provided the necessary paperwork, envelopes and useful information regarding each state's voting regulations.
In all, the effort assisted more than 550 servicemembers and civilians throughout the three-day drive, Littenberg said.
"Everybody was really into it," said Littenberg, who hails from Huntington, N.Y. "I watched a major and a specialist have a 20-minute conversation while they were completing their ballots about who was a better choice for president."
Setting up in the dining facility was great, and it motivated many soldiers to vote, said Army Staff Sgt. Devon Pierce, an infantryman assigned to the brigade personnel security detachment.
Pierce, who is on his third deployment, said this is the first one in which he has found the time to vote.
"I was glad to see the legal office took the initiative to put up flyers and set up a table in the dining facility," said Pierce, a native of Mobile, Ala.
(Army Sgt. David Hodge serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.)