Doug Chapin: New Pew Report Details Progress on Military, Overseas Voting

Doug Chapin, Program for Excellence in Election Administration, New Pew Report Details Progress on Military, Overseas Voting <read>

Democracy from Afar finds that “47 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws to protect the voting rights of military and overseas citizens”. More specifically, Pew found that “many states have implemented changes to their laws or administrative codes,” including –

+ Enough time to vote: 38 states and the District have laws or rules meeting or exceeding federal requirements to send ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before an election AND 8 additional states changed their primary dates to accommodate the requirement;

+ Electronic transmission of unvoted ballots: All states and the District allow military and overseas voters to receive blank ballots electronically;

+ Eliminating requirements for notarization or witnesses: 46 states and the District do not call for either for military and overseas voters; and

+ Expanded use of Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots (FWABs): 34 states and the District mandate FWABs be used as a backup ballot for all elections, including state and local.

All of these changes are summarized state-by-state in a typically handy-dandy Pew chart on page 5 of the report.

It really is remarkable how far this issue has come in about three years; Pew’s election team and its huge coalition of partners including OVF, the Pentagon’s Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Uniform Law Commission (whose Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act is one ongoing vehicle for state and local reform) should be deeply gratified at everything they have accomplished.

Looking at the state summary report on page 5, we Connecticut meets all four of the major criteria.  We would go farther in web convenience: Better web information accessible to overseas voters; ballot selection on the web based on polling place look up for each.

All of these changes are summarized state-by-state in a typically handy-dandy Pew chart on page 5 of the report.

It really is remarkable how far this issue has come in about three years; Pew’s election team and its huge coalition of partners including OVF, the Pentagon’s Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Uniform Law Commission (whose Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act is one ongoing vehicle for state and local reform) should be deeply gratified at everything they have accomplished.

Looking at the state by state summary on page 5 of the report, we see that Connecticut scores well, employing all the items used to compare states. We could go further following the states with best practices: Providing better web information, more conveniently and web ballot access and printing based on voter registration information.

Overall, one more reason not to employ risky, expensive online voting. Conventional, less flashy, methods are just as convenient and effective while being safe and more economical.

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