15 July 2009

Senate Committee approves overseas voting bill

Today the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee unanimously approved the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, S. 1415 and reported it out to the full Senate. Under the legislation every state would be mandated to start and keep an electronic system for voters to request absentee ballots. The law would provide the state with options for either email, facsimile, logging into a secure website or other electronic means.

The bill would largely benefit those serving in the military overseas (and those American citizens, such as myself, who live abroad). Besides mandates on the individual states it would also require the Department of Defense to collect completed ballots from overseas military voters and make sure they are postmarked and sent by express mail before the deadline for receipt. Nine Senators are cosponsoring the bill, and its chief sponsor, is Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). It also enjoys bipartisan support with Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and John Cornyn (R-TX) as cosponsors.

"It is the least we can do for our troops to make sure their votes get counted when they are serving overseas," said Schumer, who also chairs the Rules Committee. "This bill will remove the barriers that too often conspire to disenfranchise our military men and women. If we can deliver supplies and high-tech equipment to the front lines of combat, we can figure out how to get our troops a ballot so they can vote. We plan to move this bill on the Senate floor in teh next few days. We want it to become law in time for next year's elections." Schumer's press release can be found here.

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