Support Overseas Voting Bill
ACA urges its members to support subtitle H of the Senate-passed FY2010 Defense authorization bill (S. 1390), cited as the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, as the House and Senate conference on the bill.
This section, based on bipartisan legislation added to the bill in a unanimous voice vote, would make needed improvements to UOCAVA and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to correct the critical points of failure that have prevented military and overseas citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote. For example, this section would address critical shortcomings in current law by:
§ Guaranteeing that military and overseas ballots will be counted if sent by Election Day;
§ Allowing military and overseas voters to request and receive election materials electronically – such as registration forms, blank ballots and election information;
§ Ensuring that states send out ballots a minimum of 45 days in advance of the election so military and overseas voters will receive them in time;
§ Improving awareness and use of a failsafe ballot that voters can use if their ballots are lost in the mail;
§ Prohibiting states from rejecting a marked absentee ballot solely on the basis of a missing notary signature, paper size, and other restrictions;
§ Giving more resources to the Department of Defense Voting Assistance Offices who provide voting information and support to service men and women and their families;
§ Establishing standards for record-keeping on military and overseas voting statistics; and
§ Encouraging greater enforcement of the military and overseas voting statutes.
Below (and attached) is a sample letter that you can send to Chairman Skelton and Levin, and Ranking Members McKeon and McCain which can be mailed to the following addresses:
The Honorable Ike Skelton
United States House of Representatives
2206 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2504
The Honorable Carl Levin
United States Senate
269 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2202
The Honorable Howard P. (Buck) McKeon
United States House of Representatives
2184 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0525
The Honorable John McCain
United States Senate
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0303
American Citizens Abroad (ACA)
The Voice of Americans Overseas
5 Rue Liotard
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
American Citizens Abroad (ACA), the voice of Americans overseas, is a non-profit, non-partisan, all-volunteer organization that represents the interests of Americans living and working outside the U.S. to the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Federal Judiciary to insure that Americans overseas are treated with equality and fairness. ACA keeps Americans overseas informed and supports their role as informal representatives of the United States. To learn more about ACA please visit our website, www.americansabroad.org
Disclaimer: While ACA and its board members make every effort to be
accurate in the information they transmit, such information is not to
be considered a substitute for specific and qualified professional
(insert date and addresses)
Dear Chairmen Skelton and Levin, and Ranking Members McKeon and McCain:
As you conference on the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization bill, I join other American citizens abroad to urge your support for improvements to military and overseas absentee voting included in subtitle H of the Senate version of the bill (S.1390).
For over two decades, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) has helped an estimated six million Americans abroad vote in federal elections – including those serving in our military, their spouses and family, and civilians living and working overseas. However, the experience of military and overseas voters in recent elections, as well as independent assessments of the limitations of current law, highlight the critical need to take action now to ensure that our troops and citizens abroad have the resources they need to participate in future elections.
For example, according to the Election Assistance Commission, more than 660,000 of the 992,034 military and overseas absentee ballots requested for the 2006 election never reached election officials. In addition, in a study conducted by the Overseas Vote Foundation, more than half of surveyed military and overseas voters who tried to vote absentee by mail in 2008 were unable to do so because their requested ballots either were received too late to be counted or were not received at all. Further, the Pew Center on the States released a report in January 2009 showing that 25 states and the District of Columbia do not provide adequate time for military personnel or citizens overseas to vote and have their ballots counted due to barriers such as notary requirements and the lack of electronic transmission of election materials.
At a May 13, 2009 hearing, the Senate Rules Committee released a study finding that one in four ballots requested by U.S. military personnel deployed overseas went uncounted in the 2008 election. The study found that of 441,000 absentee ballots requested in 2008 by eligible overseas voters in seven high-military population states, election officials never received 98,633. Including another 13,504 ballots that were rejected for various other reasons, including a missing signature or failure to notarize, one-fourth of the requested ballots were not counted, according to the study.
In many cases, service members have expressed their concern that they did not feel like they had enough information, assistance, or time to request, receive, complete and return their absentee ballots for the 2008 election. It is critical that we not let another election go by without addressing these concerns.
It is clear that action must be taken to ensure that our military serving in harms way, as well as citizens living and working abroad, need help in breaking down the barriers that too often stand in their way when trying to access their right to vote. To this end, we strongly support subtitle H of the Senate bill, cited as the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, and ask for your support for it in conference.
This section, based on bipartisan legislation added to the bill in a unanimous voice vote, would make needed improvements to UOCAVA and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to correct the critical points of failure that have prevented military and overseas citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote. Specifically, this section will eliminate unnecessary barriers to registration and voting, improve methods for voter registration and ballot requests, ensure UOCAVA voters are educated on their rights and have ready access to voter information, and facilitate cooperation among governmental entities to allow military and overseas citizens to successfully have their ballots cast and counted.
Again, we ask for your strong support and respectfully request that you maintain subtitle H of S. 1390 in conference. Thank you, as always, for your commitment to our men and women in uniform.
(insert your salutation and contact information)
ContactAmerican Children Abroad
Ben and Helena Henderson
Prague, Czech Republic
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