Presidential Assault on Military and Overseas Voters

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas <read>

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration’s trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

The deadline for his state and most others to send out absentee ballots for the fall elections, Dearing said, falls a few days before a Sept. 24-25…That makes it difficult to provide voters with guidance about how to return their ballots.

If the United States ends up withdrawing from the UPU, overseas citizens may not be able to return their ballots using regular mail service and could have to pay upward of $60 to use one of the commercial shipping services, Dearing said…

Even if there is a disruption in international mail service, overseas military members and their dependents will be able to vote using military delivery channels, she said.

And some overseas citizens can vote electronically, although 19 states do not allow electronic return of ballots, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Another option for overseas voters, Kerr said, would be to drop off their ballots at a U.S. embassy or consulate, where U.S. postal rates will apply.

The bottom lines:

  • Election officials are approaching a deadline and have no idea what to tell Military and Overseas voters.
  • Maybe, there will be relatively easy options for Military voters, yet the Military has done a poor job of serving Military voters, especially in training Voting Assistance Officers in the current stable laws.
  • Overseas voters like expats, state department employees, military contractors, and corporate employees overseas, will be hit hardest, with the highest costs, highest hurdles, and likely the least information.
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