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Public Statements

Ensuring the Ability of Service Members, Families to Vote


Location: Washington, DC

I am committed to ensuring all U.S. service members have the right to vote. As you may know, in 2009, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act), amending the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). As amended, UOCAVA now explicitly requires every state to mail out absentee ballots to military and overseas voters by the 45th day preceding any primary or election for federal office.

A strong majority (two-thirds) of military members will need to vote by absentee ballot in 2012, yet with elections fast approaching, only an incredibly small percentage have requested an absentee ballot. Recently though, it has been reported that many military members may be disenfranchised due one of two related problems:

Problem 1--The Defense Department needs to encourage service members and military family members to vote. It must get them to submit TIMELY AND CORRECT applications for absentee ballots.

Problem 2--The Local Election Offices in the state must get absentee ballots sent out sufficiently early so that those service members who have made timely applications for ballots will in fact receive their ballots in time to mark them and return them on time to be counted. This is the responsibility of the states, under UOCAVA.

The Defense Department has instituted a web portal which contains all the information necessary to insure Service members have a voice on Election Day. The web site is at Additionally, there are non-for-profit organizations such as Military Voter Protection Project, who have web sites to assist military members and family with voting: For additional help with the absentee voting process, contact FVAP at or call 1-800-438-8683, DSN 425-1584 (CONUS)/312-425-1584 (OCONUS). It also is available on Facebook and you can follow on Twitter at @FVAP. Additionally, you can now go to our web site or call 202-225-4872 or 517-702-8000.

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