Overseas voter survey point up problems

A survey of overseas U.S. voters found a 5.4 increase in the number of respondents reporting that they were unable to complete all the steps in the overseas voting process, and 25 percent of respondents reported they had not received their ballot or had received it too late to vote.

That was the summary of the survey by the Overseas Vote Foundation. The survey took place after the November midterm elections. Participation in the survey, like actual voter turnout, was significantly down in comparison with the 2012 presidential election, the foundation said.

Disturbing results include the fact that even today, 6.5 percent of respondents tried but could not use the Federal Post Card Application. Among the reasons given, 29.2 percent gave “I thought I was still registered.”

This points up an unexpected problem stemming from the 2010 MOVE Act’s elimination of a clause that defined the validity of the official post card voter registration/ballot request form for overseas and military voters as two general election cycles, said the foundation.

MOVE is the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. The foundation also said:

“Since MOVE, voters must register again every year for all elections to be held in that year and the validity of the FPCA varies significantly across election jurisdictions, meaning that some election officials interpret the ballot request as applying to even run-off and special elections in the calendar year, while others say voters should request ballots individually for each election. Voters do not know whether their form keeps them registered beyond one calendar year in their state or for one single election. And voters may move from the first kind of state to the second, and be caught unaware that they will not receive a ballot for a special election in the event of the death or resignation of a legislator.”

Further problems include the fact that 29.7 percent missed the voter registration deadline in their state and 24.8 percent had technical difficulties in completing their form (14.6 percent still, today, found the form confusing), said the foundation.

In addition, 23.2 percent did not receive their official ballot and 45.5 percent were unaware of their ability to use the emergency Federal Write-In Ballot if their ballot did not arrive on time, the foundation added.

More than anything else, said the foundation, what these results point to is a lack of education: education of the overseas voter (which should not be the sole responsibility of overseas advocacy and political organizations) and of election officials (who should uniformly apply the single election cycle requirement, if it is to be maintained, across the board) and government itself.

Respondents to the survey were self-selected, so it is likely that more people who had problems completed a survey than those who did not have problems.

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