Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) reintroduced the Military Overseas Ballot Protection Act, requiring states to count all military absentee ballots. Specifically, this bill amends the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to ensure states count these ballots by delaying the process of certifying the results of a regularly scheduled general election for a federal office by up to 10 days. This will ensure absentee ballots of overseas uniformed voters are collected and counted and will allow more time for these ballots to be collected, protecting the voting rights of our deployed troops.
Dr. Roe made the following statement on his bill:
"Every day our troops are making sacrifices to protect America. We're lucky to live in the greatest country in the world and we're fortunate to elect our leaders. Our service members deserve the same right they fight so courageously to protect. These men and women deserve to have their vote counted.
"In its current form, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act does not do enough to guarantee our deployed soldiers can exercise their right to vote and the Military Overseas Ballot Protection Act would remedy this serious problem. Under current law, if a ballot is received even a day late, there is nothing preventing the election from being certified, meaning soldiers' late ballots will not be counted. The Military Overseas Ballot Protection Act will make sure the absentee ballots of overseas uniformed voters are collected and counted before the election is certified."
The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission estimated that in 2008, as many as 70% of deployed or absentee military voters were disenfranchised. Currently some troops have to go through a complex process to cast their vote while overseas, and many of them find it difficult to not only cast a vote, but even more so to have it counted.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act required certain procedures to be put in place to streamline the process in an attempt to ensure states get overseas ballots before election day.
While all states allow military citizens to register and vote by an absentee ballot in federal elections, in some states, if a ballot is received even a day late, the election may have been certified and their vote will not count.