The House Armed Services’ Military Personnel Subcommittee recently conducted an oversight hearing on military absentee voting that included a status report on implementation of the Military Overseas Voting Empowerment Act (MOVE). Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson (S.C.) referenced a recent Inspector General (IG) report that found a shortfall in DoD’s MOVE-mandated requirements to establish Voting Assistance Offices (VAO) at military installations. A Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) post-2010 election report to Congress last September indicated there were 224 such installations, but Ambassador (Ret.) Kenneth P. Moorefield, Deputy DoD IG for Special Plans and Operations, testified that some major installations were omitted.
FVAP reported that the number of states that e-mail blank ballots to absentee voters has increased from 13 in 2008 to 47 in this election cycle. The three states that do not provide this option do, however, offer voters the ability to download a blank ballot from a secure website. FVAP hosts a web portal that allows voters to obtain state-specific information on absentee voting rules and deadlines, sent e-mail messages to 1.4 million overseas voters and has provided 81 workshops for Voter Assistance Officers (VAO) at military installations and embassies.
FRA strongly supported the MOVE Act, which removed many obstacles to voting by mandating all absentee paper ballots be mailed at least 45 days in advance, making electronic ballots available for downloading, eliminating the requirement for absentee ballots to be notarized or witnessed, and expanding the acceptance of Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots. Unfortunately, 22 states still fail to comply with all four of these requirements and FRA continues to support all efforts that streamline the voting process for military and overseas voters. FRA urges all military personnel to vote regularly.