Soldiers voting absentee

The World

There are 6 million potential voters living overseas and 1.4 of them are in the military. This man used to be one of them and served in the army for 26 years but now runs a non-profit dedicated to getting more members of the military to vote. He knows it’s an uphill battle because people in the military typically move every couple years. He says the absentee voting system is broken. Most agree the absentee voting system is fraught with problems, and mainly that it takes too long. State election officials suggest members of the military voting absentee should request a ballot 45 days before the election, but often ballots aren’t ready then. And almost every step of the system is still done by mail. This analyst says any system which depends on finding the soldier and delivering a piece of paper is going to fail a significant amount of the time. He also has been advocating for reform of the system. Any solution has to come at the local level because elections are run at the state, and the analyst says it’s hard to change public policy based on an issue that’s relevant only every couple years. This analyst says a few states are taking the lead on reform, and notes Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota and some other states now send out their blank ballots via fax and email, and that cuts transit time in half. Many say the ideal is to have each step of the voting process done electronically, a step states have been reluctant to agree to because of the difficulty of ensuring privacy. This Department of Defense official says she’s in favor of doing anything that’ll make voting easier for the servicemen and women overseas.

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