CONTACTS:     
Rick Jones (703) 750-1342 Ext. 1008 rjones@naus.org
Chip Levengood (202) 470-2480 chip@overseasvotefoundation.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 26, 2009

ALLIANCE FOR MILITARY AND OVERSEAS VOTING RIGHTS
APPLAUDS CONGRESS FOR REMOVING OBSTACLES ENCOUNTERED BY
MILITARY AND OVERSEAS VOTERS

WASHINGTON, DC – On October 22, Congress took a significant step towards fixing the election system for military and overseas voters when it approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The NDAA encompasses the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which will provide military service members and overseas civilians with enough time to receive, complete and return their ballots in time to be counted.  Sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT), the MOVE Act enjoyed bipartisan support.

“We commend Senators Schumer and Bennett for all of the work they have done, and thank them on behalf of our military service members and citizens overseas,” said Rick Jones, co-chair of the Alliance for Military and Overseas Voting Rights (AMOVR).

Other members of Congress who were instrumental in ensuring that these important provisions were incorporated in the NDAA include Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Ben Nelson (D-FL) and Representatives Robert Brady (D-PA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Michael Coffman (R-CO), Susan Davis (D-CA) and Dan Lungren (R-CA).

“Thanks to the work of this bipartisan group, and the leadership of Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) and Representatives Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Buck McKeon (R-CA), some of the most significant obstacles to voting encountered by military and overseas voters will be removed,“ said Chip Levengood, AMOVR co-chair.

The final bill ensures that military service members and overseas Americans will have enough time to vote by requiring election officials to send absentee ballots at least 45 days before an election and allowing for the electronic transmittal of blank ballots and registration materials.  The bill also expands the use of the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot to primaries, special elections and run-offs, and expands and accelerates research and pilot projects to find technological solutions that provide a secure, efficient and convenient means for military and overseas voters to cast their ballots.

"We are delighted to see such bipartisan support for improvements in voting procedures for both military and overseas civilian voters,“  added Lucy Laederich, vice-chair of AMOVR.   "In the end, democracy is the winner!“
The Alliance for Military and Overseas Voting Rights (AMOVR) has worked tirelessly to advocate for these changes.  AMOVR is a coalition of over 30 military associations, overseas advocacy organizations, elected officials and student groups dedicated to ensuring that Americans abroad have an equal right and opportunity to vote.  The Alliance has worked to advance the following principles:

  • Military and overseas voters must be provided adequate time to receive, complete, and return their absentee ballots;
  • States should adopt standardized procedures for registering Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters, delivering blank ballots to them and receiving the cast ballots from them;
  • Congress and the States should expand and accelerate research and pilot projects to find technological solutions that provide a secure, efficient and convenient means for military and overseas voters to cast their ballots; and
  • The election system should serve both military and overseas civilians.

While the MOVE Act will affect all federal elections, it will be left to individual States to determine what level of protections are extended to the military and overseas voters for State and local elections.  AMOVR and its members will continue to work with the States to ensure that those who serve our country have an election system that serves them.

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