Senator Chuck Grassley is continuing his efforts to ensure that military families are provided every opportunity to vote. Grassley is a co-sponsor of legislation that would give troops and their eligible dependents a chance to register to vote during inprocessing at a new duty station, as well as pre- and post-deployment.
"This is a simple solution that would help make sure those who defend democracy have a full opportunity to participate in the democratic process," Grassley said. "We need to make sure the programs in place are working for those who keep our country safe."
Grassley said that because of the transient nature of military service, troops and their families are often unable to vote at the registered voting jurisdiction on Election Day. This legislation would provide quick and easy access to registration materials and help keep mailing addresses current with home voting jurisdictions so absentee ballots arrive in time for service members to vote and have their votes counted.
A U.S. Election assistance survey found that, in the 2006 election, nearly two-thirds of absentee ballots requested by military and overseas voters failed to reach local election officials to be counted, and 70 percent of those uncounted ballots never even arrived in the hands of the registered voters.
Grassley is also a co-sponsor of the Military Voting Protection Act of 2009. The bill would require the Department of Defense to expedite collection and transportation of absentee ballots of overseas military voters to the correct state election offices. In advance of the 2008 election, Grassley wrote to then Attorney General Michael Mukasey to ensure that the Federal Voting Assistance Program was carried out and military personnel and their dependents were given the opportunity to vote in the 2008 election.
In 2002, Grassley secured passage of an amendment to the landmark Help America Vote Act that established new requirements for the Department of Defense of Defense to ensure that members of the military have their vote counted.
Specifically, the Military Voters' Equal Access to Registration Act would require the military services to:
· Designate a specific office on active duty military installations as a "voter registration agency" under the National Voter Registration Act.
· Provide troops and their family members, on a standing basis, the opportunity to register to vote, update existing voter registration, or request an absentee ballot.
· Provide these opportunities to troops in specific instances, including permanent change of duty station, deployment of 6 months or longer, and return from such deployment.
· Inform troops and their families about these services and their availability.
· Report to Congress on the status of implementation (within 180 days of enactment), as well as the extent of utilization of these services by troops and their families (within one year).