In 2009, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act) which now requires every state to mail out absentee ballots to military and overseas voters 45 days prior to any primary or general election for Federal office.
Your local election official (LEO) must have absentee ballots printed and ready to mail by Saturday, September 22, so that military personnel from your community will be able to vote in the November 6 general election regardless of where the service of our country has taken them. Unfortunately, the fact that this is required by federal law does not necessarily mean that it is going to happen.
According to Military Voter Protection Project, in 2010 mid-term election, 15 states requested waivers from DOD to the 45 day deadline. The waiver in New York state allowed ballots to be mailed by October 1, 2010 (32 days before the election). New York missed this deadline and sent ballots on October 12, 2010, only 3 weeks left until the election, causing 43,000 military and overseas voters to be affected. Similarly, at least 35 counties in Illinois failed to meet the 45 day deadline and waited until October 5 or later to mail absentee ballots. This clearly demonstrates there is little concern in many states that our active duty military is still the most disenfranchised voting group in the United States today.
There are more than 7,500 local election offices administering absentee voting for federal elections, and many of them are ignorant of their obligations under federal law. September 22 is this Saturday. Please contact your LEO (County Clerk, etc.) and the LEOs for several nearby counties or municipalities and find out if the ballots were mailed out on time. Remind the LEO of the requirement to mail ballots is by September 22. Check back on Monday, September 24, to determine if the ballots have been mailed.
The passing of the MOVE Act amended the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). UOCAVA voters are active duty service members and their voting age family members, whether within or outside the United States, as well as U.S. citizens outside our country. Please note that the requirement to send out ballots not later than September 22 applies to active duty service members who are currently serving within the United States, as well as those who are in places like Afghanistan.
Please report to Concerned Veterans for America if you discover ballots by your LEO have not been mailed on time. We’d like to know who isn’t defending the right to vote for our men and women in uniform.
Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret) is a member of the Concerned Veterans for America’s organizing committee.