Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Challenges Faced by Overseas Voters

There was an interesting story on NPR that I heard the other day, about a topic that most Americans never think about: the difficulties faced by Americans overseas who want to participate in elections, especially this year. This includes many of our troops, who deserve to have their voices heard:

It's never been easy for Americans living overseas to vote, as the numbers show. In 2006, only a third of the 1 million absentee ballots requested by military and overseas Americans were cast and counted. Michael Caudell-Feagan, of the Pew Center on the States, says every state has different rules.

"When will your ballot be mailed to you? Well, that's going to depend upon your state," he said. "Do you have to have that ballot notarized or an affidavit? It's going to depend on that state. Will your vote be counted? Too often it will depend on that state."

He says some overseas voters — especially those in remote areas or war zones — face almost impossible deadlines. He notes that the military postal service recommended that those stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq mail their completed ballots no later than Sept. 30 — but then says that only 24 states actually have absentee ballots available by that date.

The article goes on to describe reforms that are in the works, but they don't seem like they are going to help much this year, and that's really not something I think we should happy about.

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