military voters

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National: Air Force streamlines voting program to help optimize Airmen’s core missions | U.S. Air Force

Air Force officials recently released guidance that streamlines the organizational structure and functions of the Air Force Voting Assistance Program. A November 2017 Air Force guidance memorandum realigned the program under installation Airman and Family Readiness Centers, thereby eliminating voting assistance officers as an additional duty at Air Force units. The move is part of an Air Force-wide effort to reduce Airmen’s additional duties so they can more effectively focus on their core missions.

Full Article: AF streamlines voting program to help optimize Airmen’s core missions > U.S. Air Force > Article Display.

National: Servicemembers turned out in smaller numbers for 2016 presidential vote | Stars & Stripes

The 2016 U.S. presidential election failed to interest many military voters, a recently released federal study has found. Voting rates dropped from 58 percent in 2012 to just 46 percent in 2016 among servicemembers, says the Federal Voting Assistance Program report, released earlier this month. “A striking finding from our analyses is the reported drop in participation rate among military personnel in the 2016 election as compared to the general population,” FVAP program director David Beirne said in a report to Congress. “The data shows that more military members cited motivation-related reasons for not voting and were less interested in the election in 2016 than in 2012,” he added.

Full Article: Servicemembers turned out in smaller numbers for 2016 presidential vote - News - Stripes.

Voting Blogs: FVAP submits 2016 post-election report to Congress | electionlineWeekly

The Federal Voting Assistance Program’s 2016 Post-Election Report to Congress shows that its voting assistance efforts work: FVAP continues to make progress in reducing obstacles to absentee voting for active duty military and has expanded outreach initiatives for voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). “I am proud of the work accomplished by FVAP to support military members, their families, and Americans living abroad throughout the 2016 cycle,” FVAP Director David Beirne said.

Full Article: electionlineWeekly.

Georgia: Johns Creek Election May Be Illegitimate, Voting Group Alleges | Johns Creek Patch

The results of a special Johns Creek City Council election held April 18 may not be legitimate, according to a report by the nonprofit group VoterGA. The report focuses its critique on alleged security flaws in voting machines and says the election was improperly scheduled. Three separate elections were held that night: the Johns Creek City Council election, the Roswell City Council run-off and the Sixth District Congressional race. … But there were problems in the Johns Creek election, according to VoterGA.

Full Article: Johns Creek Election May Be Illegitimate, Voting Group Alleges - Johns Creek, GA Patch.

Editorials: Time for Act II of the MOVE Act | Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat/U.S. Vote Foundation

Rarely does the first iteration of a law translate legislative intent into implementation flawlessly and durably. The legislative process allows us to correct, improve or update laws as needed in our changing times. It’s an ongoing process, and one we should embrace! A new round of legislative reform is needed to ensure that the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and its progeny continue to play a vital role. In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) was passed as a much-needed, bipartisan reform to UOCAVA; and it has served as a mechanism to modernize key aspects of UOCAVA. The MOVE Act’s creation was informed by years of research, including work by U.S. Vote Foundation’s (US Vote) Overseas Vote initiative (formerly Overseas Vote Foundation), and it has been demonstrably successful in accelerating the transition to online methods for most overseas and military voting processes across all states.

Full Article: Time for Act II of the MOVE Act | U.S. Vote Foundation.

National: Why some military personnel ballots may not be counted | News21

Military and overseas voting can be a complicated process. Service members can file a Federal Post Card Application, which allows them to both register to vote and request an absentee ballot from their home state or county. If the service member doesn’t receive their ballot in time, they can use a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot as a backup. EAC Commissioner Thomas Hicks told News21 that some of the inconsistencies between ballots sent and ballots returned are likely the result of military voters printing out the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot and sending it back home. Since the ballots are not sent by local jurisdictions, they might be counted as ballots returned but not mailed out. The commissioner stressed that ensuring the accuracy of that data is up to states and not the EAC. “I’m confident in that it is the data coming from the states and I think that we put that data out and it’s accurate,” said Hicks.

Full Article: Why some military personnel ballots may not be counted | Cronkite News.

Voting Blogs: Federal reports on military voting often flawed | Voting by Mail

When Americans vote for president in November, many of the 1.4 million active-duty U.S. military personnel stationed or deployed overseas will not know whether their absentee ballots have reached their home states to be counted. The federal Election Assistance Commission, charged with monitoring their votes, may not know either. Under the Help America Vote Act, the ballots of military and overseas voters are supposed to be tallied by their home states and sent to the EAC, which reports them to Congress. But a News21 analysis of the EAC’s data found at least one in eight jurisdictions reported receiving more ballots than they sent, counting more ballots than they received or rejecting more ballots than they received.

Full Article: Federal reports on military voting often flawed Voting by Mail.

Colorado: Service members preserve voting rights but struggle to exercise them | Colorado Springs Gazette

One of the most sacred values the military protects is the right to vote, retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner says, so he is working to ensure the men and women of the military are practicing this right. He is the executive director of the nonpartisan Military Officers Association of America’s Military Family Initiative. The group recently received a grant to fund a military voter education program. “There is nothing that affects a military family’s quality of life more than the quality of people they elect to office,” Turner said. “Your vote is just the single most important manifestation of your democratic rights as a citizen of this democracy.” The Military Family Initiative received $218,300 from the Democracy Fund for the military voter education program.

Full Article: Service members preserve voting rights but struggle to exercise them | Colorado Springs Gazette, News.

Florida: It’s in the mail: First primary ballots headed to overseas voters | Tampa Bay Times

It’s seven weeks before primary election day in Florida, but the first wave of primary ballots is in the mail to voters living or stationed in dozens of countries overseas. By law, those ballots, many headed to active-duty military personnel, must be in the mail by Saturday, July 16, or 45 days before the Aug. 30 election. The counties that generally ship the most overseas and military ballots are Escambia, Okaloosa and Bay in the Florida Panhandle, along with Duval, Brevard and Hillsborough, all with large military installations. In Okaloosa County, the home of Eglin Air Force Base, Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux said Tuesday he mailed 3,600 ballots, and another 1,300 will be sent by Friday to voters who emailed requests to his office. On Lux’s office wall in Crestview is a map (above) dotted with dozens of pins marking the many destinations for his county’s overseas ballots.

Full Article: It's in the mail: First primary ballots headed to overseas voters | Tampa Bay Times.

Iowa: Bill makes it easier for overseas military members to vote | Daily Iowegian

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate applauds the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad for making it easier for Iowa’s overseas military members and citizens to vote, and ensuring their votes are counted. The legislation, House File 2147, passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Branstad Thursday morning. The bill gives Iowans serving or visiting overseas an extra 30 days to request, receive and return special absentee ballots, extending the time from 90 days to 120 days prior to an election.

Full Article: Bill makes it easier for overseas military members to vote | Local News | dailyiowegian.com.

North Carolina: Would delaying NC’s election violate military voters’ rights? | Fayetteville Observer

A delay in this year’s primary elections – for which absentee voting has begun – will disenfranchise overseas military personnel and other North Carolinians voting by absentee ballot, Jerry Reinoehl of Fayetteville said on Monday at a statewide public hearing. The state’s congressional districts should not be changed, he said. The districts should be revised, said Wanda Lawrence of Fayetteville, and the March 15 primary elections delayed if needed in order to protect the constitutional rights of the people living in two districts that a panel of federal judges recently ruled are unconstitutionally unfair. Those two arguments and others were made Monday during a statewide public hearing held at Fayetteville Technical Community College and five other locations on how to revise northeast North Carolina’s 1st  and central North Carolina’s 12th congressional districts.

Full Article: Would delaying NC's election violate military voters' rights? | Local News | fayobserver.com.

Voting Blogs: Working Group Offers Meaningful Ways to Make Military Voting Easier | Democracy Fund

One of the many strengths of our military is that our service members come from all across the country, from rural counties to densely packed cities and everything in between. However, the geographic diversity of our military can also present unique challenges to service members’ ability to understand and quickly navigate voting rules. Most people are unaware of the confusing system our service members and overseas voters face when trying to request and cast their absentee ballot. A patchwork of state rules means that there isn’t one standardized process for this group. Yet many of these voters compare voting information with one another, often close to election deadlines when they have very little room for error. Unfortunately, well-meaning fellow voters from different parts of the country might assume requirements are the same for all and pass along bad information.

Full Article: Working Group Offers Meaningful Ways to Make Military Voting Easier: Democracy Fund.

National: Beefed-up DoD voter education campaign to launch soon | Military Times

Service members will get their first reminder about registering to vote on Jan. 15, when a Defense Department message will go out to everyone with a dot.mil email address. The 2016 general election is almost a year away, but the primaries start in February, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program has been gearing up for months to fulfill its mission of helping voters vote. “I want to make it loud and clear: the Defense Department is ready for election season,” said Matt Boehmer, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program. “We want to make sure everyone who wants to participate, can.”

Full Article: Beefed-up DoD voter education campaign to launch soon.

National: Should soldiers’ votes get counted? That’s not as easy as you’d think. | The Washington Post

Americans want their soldiers to vote. But often they can’t. Despite absentee balloting, military personnel deployed overseas often just cannot participate in elections. For most of U.S. history, military personnel have not been able to vote. State laws and constitutions often specifically restricted military personnel from participating in the franchise. Attitudes about voting soldiers started to change when the Civil War called large numbers of citizens for military service—but action was tempered by partisan politics. The Civil War was the first time the United States had large numbers of soldiers deployed during a presidential election. Politicians of both parties were convinced that the army would vote for the commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. As a result, most states with Republican governors and legislatures passed laws enabling soldiers to vote, while most states led by Democrats did not. Those voting soldiers probably helped Abraham Lincoln in Maryland and influenced a few local elections in various states.

Full Article: Should soldiers’ votes get counted? That’s not as easy as you’d think. - The Washington Post.

Missouri: Expanded voting rights, registration for military voters sent to governor | Associated Press

Military voters returning from service would have a longer window to register to vote in Missouri elections under a measure headed to the governor’s desk. The Missouri Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow military and overseas voters to participate in elections for statewide offices, the state Legislature and statewide ballot initiatives. Currently those voters are allowed to vote only in federal elections.

Colorado: Internet voting in Colorado: What could go wrong? | Communities Digital News

On November 24, 2014 widely reported stories told of Sony Pictures being hacked, resulting in the loss of an incredible amount of intellectual property. Then last month, a massive cyberattack hacked Anthem Blue Cross, leading to a breach of over 11 million customers’ personal information. Now, with the end of the session less than four weeks away, legislators in Colorado—both Democrat and Republican—are working on a bill that could expand the use of internet voting, claiming that it is safe and secure. The bill, known as House Bill 15-1130, would mark the third year in a row that the legislature has tried to overhaul elections in Colorado. Each bill has been worse than the last. In the 2013 session, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a bill that contained mandatory all mail-in ballots, same day voter registration and reduced residency requirements for any state-wide election. In 2014, they extended these bad ideas to local elections.

Full Article: Internet voting in Colorado: What could go wrong? | Communities Digital News.

Alabama: Run-off Election Timing Disenfranchises Overseas Military Voters | Courthouse News Service

Alabama’s mandate that runoff elections be held 42 days after an inconclusive federal primary pre-empts the right of overseas military personnel to participate via absentee ballots, the 11th Circuit ruled. “In our nation’s recent history, active military personnel and their families have faced severe difficulties exercising their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Circuit judge Stanley Marcus, writing for the three-judge panel. “For affected service members, the decision to serve their country was the very act that frequently deprived them of a voice in selecting its government,” Marcus added. To remedy the problem, Congress in 1986 passed the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which provides that a state must send absentee voters a ballot 45 days before a federal election.

Full Article: Courthouse News Service.

Minnesota: Bill Would Make it Easier for National Guard Members to Vote When Called to Serve | KSTP

Absentee voting procedures available to military members called to service by the president could soon be extended to members of the Minnesota National Guard. There’s currently a difference in absentee voting rights between National Guard members who are called to service by a governor and members called to service by the president. National Guard members called up for federal service can receive their ballot in some circumstances by email and do not need a witness for their absentee ballot.

Full Article: Bill Would Make it Easier for Minn. National Guard Members to Vote When Called to Serve | KSTP TV - Minneapolis and St. Paul.

National: New online tool helps troops overseas vote | Stripes

With the midterm elections approaching, voting activists have developed a new online tool to make it easier for servicemembers deployed overseas to cast their votes. The Can I Vote Absentee? widget provides information about absentee voting rules and regulations on a state-by-state basis. It also helps people register to vote and request their ballots. … Registering and acquiring ballots are critical steps in the voting process, but Pamela Smith, the president of Verified Voting, emphasized the importance of getting the ballots mailed back in time. She encouraged troops to take advantage of the Military Postal Service’s special express mail delivery service for sending ballots. The service is free and gets each ballot back to election officials within two days on average, she told reporters. “This is really helpful because it makes it a secure and private way to get your ballot back,” she said.

Full Article: New online tool helps troops overseas vote - News - Stripes.

Mississippi: Despite election challenge, Mississippi ballot set with Thad Cochran as Senate nominee | Associated Press

Mississippi elections commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a November ballot that lists Republican Thad Cochran, Democrat Travis Childers and the Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara as nominees for U.S. Senate. Approval of the ballot came, as expected, while Chris McDaniel’s challenge of his Republican primary loss to Cochran is still awaiting trial. The judge overseeing McDaniel’s challenge said last week that he would not block preparations for the general election, including the setting of the ballot. State law says the ballot must be given to counties by Sept. 10, which is 55 days before the Nov. 4 general election. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said Mississippi must make absentee ballots available to overseas military voters starting Sept. 20. “Unless we’re ordered to the contrary, we’re going to follow the process,” Hosemann said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Full Article: Despite election challenge, Mississippi ballot set with Thad Cochran as Senate nominee | gulflive.com.