Misinformation about the military vote has spread like wildfire on several conservative message boards. These rumors,if believed would increase disenfranchisement of overseas military, instead of reduce it. Posts to message boards like "Not Again Military Voters to be Disenfranchized Sean Hannity ..." may be well intended but areincorrect. To help our military to vote, we must give them the truth!
Two things have happened since 2008 to dramatically improve voting conditions for our troops overseas, the MOVE Act which makes it easier for troops to register and get a ballot, and DOD acting as a Voter Registration Agency, to assist troops in their voting needs.
1. The passage of the MOVE Act in 2009, which was built into a defense authorization bill. The Overseas Vote Foundation explains what the MOVE act does:
The four main planks in MOVE are:
- elimination of notarization requirements for overseas ballots in the states that still require this, as well as other registration requirements imposed specifically on UOCAVA voters.
- all states must make voter registration and absentee ballot applications available electronically, as well as General Election information. MOVE also requires that all states make a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, matching the design and functionality launched last year by Overseas Vote Foundation, available online for when official ballots don't arrive in time.
- all overseas and military voters must re-register for every election cycle, instead of every two election cycles.
- all states must plan, as of this year, for a 45-day window for the ballot "round-trip".
So, what does this all mean for you, the overseas voter, this year?
- possible changes in your state's primary schedule so make sure you check the State-Specific Voter Information Directory for election dates and deadlines
- it means that you'll need to, as we've always recommended, re-register every election year
- as of the General Election, it will mean that your state must be able to deliver your unvoted ballot "electronically", which could mean via a website, email or fax machine
But"if you're a OVF user, then you already have access to most of the online tools the MOVE Act legislates: electronic registration and ballot request forms and a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (the "emergency" ballot) that automatically fills in the official candidate names and the right mailing address.
2. The Department of Defense will now act as a voter registration agency. In 2009, Senator Coryn and Senator Schumer together lobbyied the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates - to have the DoD act as a VRA provide voting assistance to our troops here in the US and Abroad. THIS IS A FIRST! And long over due. See this Department of Defense Press Release dated January 8, 2010: