Eye Opener: Making Overseas Voting Easier
UPDATE 2:26 p.m. ET: The measure cleared the Senate Rules Committee unanimously. It will be offered up as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, according to a spokesman.
A reminder that the bill would benefit ALL Americans living or working overseas -- regardless of employment status. Supporters are most concerned about military servicemembers deployed abroad. Currently 258,000 troops are deployed overseas, according to Defense Department statistics.
Happy WEDNESDAY! (NOT Monday like it foolishly said earlier.) A Senate committee will consider a bill today making it easier for Americans overseas to vote in primary, special and general elections. The bill's chiefly designed to ease the voting burden for military servicemembers deployed overseas, but it will also benefit the millions of foreign service workers, government contractors working overseas, Peace Corps volunteers and all other expatriates.
The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act) puts most of the burden on the states to provide better online and fax options for servicemembers to request and return their ballots. The Defense Department will also have to establish procedures to collect ballot envelopes and send them by express mail.
The bill follows a disturbing report released in May that found that at least one in four ballots requested by servicemembers and other Americans living and working overseas go uncounted. The Senate Rules Committee, worked with the Congressional Research Service to survey election offices in seven states with big military populations: California, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia. Of 441,000 absentee ballots requested from overseas, more than 98,000 "lost" ballots were never received by election officials.
Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is the lead sponsor on the bill, which faces possible amendments and other concerns from Republican lawmakers today. Democrats hope to get the bill out of committee today and attached to the Defense Authorization Bill, which senators will vote on later this week.
Here's hoping lawmakers do whatever they can to assure that the nation's public servants working overseas have legitimate, easy ways to register to vote and then actually participate in elections in a timely fashion. Seems only fair.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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