Senator Chuck Grassley today said that legislation he has cosponsored that would ensure members of the military and overseas voters are aware of their voting rights and have greater opportunities to cast a ballot was included in the National Defense Authorization Act that is currently being debated before the U.S. Senate.
"Those who defend democracy should have every opportunity to participate in the democratic process," Grassley said. "There are simply too many barriers for people serving their country and working overseas to casting a ballot in our federal elections."
The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act will eliminate unnecessary barriers to registration and voting, improve methods for voter registration and ballot requests, ensure Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act voters are educated on their rights and have ready access to voter information, and facilitate cooperation among governmental entities to allow military and overseas citizens to successfully have their ballots cast and counted.
Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act
· Requires that states institute electronic systems for sending voter registration and absentee ballot applications, and electronic methods to deliver blank ballots to Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters with respect to elections for federal office.
· Requires states to send ballots to UOCAVA voter at least 45 days prior to the election date.
· States will develop procedures to transmit UOCAVA ballots in an expedited manner, in the case of a run-off' election.
· Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish procedures for the benefit of military UOCAVA voters to collect marked absentee ballots from military voters, work with the U.S. Postal Service to ensure an expedited mail delivery system, and encourage absentee ballot envelopes are marked with a record of the ballot's mailing date.
· Clarifies that military voters are exempt from paying regular postage within UOCAVA.
· Extends the use of federal write-in absentee ballots to primary, special and run-off elections for federal office.
· Requires the Secretary of Defense to promote and expand the use of federal write-in absentee ballots and to implement an online system whereby the UOCAVA voter enters his or her voting address and the system generates a candidate list for the voter's jurisdiction. The system would allow the voter to electronically see the candidates they are voting for, print the ballot with complete jurisdictional-specific instructions and jurisdiction-specific mailing addresses, and other information.
· Prohibits States from rejecting a marked absentee ballot or federal postcard application form from a UOCAVA voter solely on the basis of notary signature, paper type, and envelope type.
· Requires Secretaries of each military department to designate a voter registration agency on every installation worldwide within each respective Secretary's jurisdiction (excluding installations in theaters of combat).
· Requires the Department of Defense to include voter registration, absentee ballot request information and federal postcard application forms during in-processing at every military base and installation; and to provide military members the opportunity to register to vote at different points during the military member's service and deployment.
· Establishes global email notification network to give military service members advance notice of upcoming elections and the availability of federal postcard application forms and federal write-in absentee ballots.
· Allows the Secretary of Defense to designate military pay and personnel offices and military ID offices as voter registration agencies.
· Authorizes the Department of Defense to conduct a pilot project on improving technological solutions for military voting.