For military and overseas voters from 47 states and D.C., casting a ballot in 2012 will be a much different — and easier — experience than ever before. Since the 2009 passage of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which called for improved election access for those living or serving abroad, 47 states and D.C. have enacted new laws and reforms to protect this group of voters, the Pew Center on the States study released Friday found. The 2012 election is the first presidential contest where these voters will cast ballots with the newly implemented legislative and administrative changes. Pew found that 38 states and D.C. now have rules meeting or exceeding the MOVE act’s requirement to send absentee ballots no later than 45 days before a federal election, and eight states also moved their primary dates to accommodate that condition.
And in 2012, all states and D.C. permit military and overseas voters to receive blank ballots electronically. Since 2010, 31 states and D.C. changed or expanded their laws to comply with the requirement that voting materials, including unmarked ballots, be sent through electronic transmission.
In another improvement for voters abroad, 46 states and D.C. currently do not require notarizing or witness requirements for military and overseas ballots. And 34 states and D.C. now mandate that federal write-in absentee ballots be used as a backup ballot for all elections, Pew found.