Maloney-Honda amendment will help improve election participation of Americans Overseas
Washington DC –Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Michael Honda (D-CA) authored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 2647, which would create an Overseas Voting Advisory Board to assist the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), the lead agency empowered to assist overseas voters, whether military or civilian. H.R. 2647 is expected to be passed by the House later today.
“For many years the FVAP has failed in its mission to provide ballot
access for both our military and for civilians living abroad,” Rep.
Maloney said. “This new board of experts named by Congress and the
Executive Branch will help the staff of FVAP stay focused on overcoming
the many obstacles to overseas voting. Our goal is that by the next
major election, the brave men and women of our armed forces --and all
American citizens abroad-- can have their voices heard. I’m grateful
that this amendment had bi-partisan support, including the Chair of the
House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton and Ranking Member Howard
Rep. Honda said, “With a new Administration that re-energized the
national and worldwide electorate, and with Ms. Maloney’s continuing
tireless efforts on behalf of Military and Overseas voters, I am
confident that the passage of this Amendment and the creation of an
Overseas Voting Advisory Board will help end the disenfranchisement of
millions of voters. The OVAB will allow us to immediately evaluate and
address long-established barriers faced by overseas voters and protect
the integrity of the electoral process in a practical and
cost-effective and efficient manner.”
For complete text of the amendment, visit: http://www.rules.house.gov/111/SpecialRules/hr2647/39maloney_hr2647_111.pdf
Maloney/Honda amendment would establish an Overseas Vote Advisory Board
that would provide guidance and oversight to the Federal Voting
The Federal Voting Assistance Program is
supposed to help ensure that overseas voters are counted in elections.
The following is a list of recent failures of the FVAP that highlight
the need for a new direction and greater oversight of the office’s
2002- The Inspector General of the Department of
Defense found during the 2002 election that about 42% of military
surveyed knew who their Voting Assistance Officer was. Four years and
two federal election cycles later, only 47% knew.
2004- In 2004, the Interim Voting Assistance System spent $576,000, but only 17 voters participated.
The Inspector General also found that in 2006, only 33% of military
absentee voters were aware of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA,
the very form they are to use to request an absentee ballot). Only
25% had received FPCAs by the DoD deadline of January 15th. Further,
only 31% of the military absentee voters surveyed were even aware of
the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) and its use if they didn’t
receive their regular absentee ballot.
Only 5% of Unit Voting
Assistance Officers during the 2006 election cycle had delivered
Federal Post Card Applications to their personnel by the Secretary of
Defense mandated January 15th deadline. When pressed, the UVAOs
admitted they either weren’t assigned until after the January 15th
deadline, they did not even know of the requirement, or they simply
ignored the requirement because they “perceived the requirement as an
In 2006, 39.8% of this country’s
citizens voted. However, only 22% of the military’s active duty
personnel voted. Simply bringing military voting rates up to those of
the general population would increase military voting by over 241,000
While more than 85% of the general electorate
who requested absentee ballots actually cast them, only about 25% of
the military who requested them actually got the chance to cast them.
2006, FVAP spent $1.1 million on the Integrated Voting Assistance
System, but only eight votes were traced back to the system.
In response to the FY07 Defense Appropriations Act, FVAP initiated a
Request for Proposals for Military Voter Registration System which was
supposed to be operational in December 2007, but was not launched
until late August 2008 just months before the 2008 election.
Of the thousands of voters who used the Federal Write-in Absentee
Ballot (FWAB) only 11% were able to obtain one from the FVAP
Over a quarter of military voters who requested a ballot did not receive a ballot.