Reps. Maloney and Honda Introduce Bill Protecting Rights of Military and Overseas Voters

Mar 26, 2009
Press Release
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the Americans Abroad Caucus, and Congressman Michael M. Honda (D-CA) have re-introduced H.R. 1739, to protect the voting rights of millions of U.S. uniformed services and overseas citizen voters . The bill amends the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) to directly affect the ability of military and overseas voters to successfully request and cast absentee ballots, eliminate known burdens on election officials, and provide the means to concretely improve outreach and services to military and overseas voters.

The Overseas Citizens Voting Act of 1975 guarantees the right to vote for military personnel and U.S. citizens living overseas. Despite all efforts, implementation of the absentee overseas and military voting program continues to challenge election administrators and voters alike: in 2008, one in four of the surveyed armed forces members stationed overseas didn't receive a ballot for November’s election. In addition, more than half of overseas Americans that tried to vote, but could not, were unable to do so because their ballots did not arrive in time.

“Right now, too many of our military and overseas voters are disenfranchised by a tangle of bureaucratic red tape,” said Rep. Maloney. “The problems are persistent, including delivery issues, general lack of awareness of available voter assistance programs, and archaic state voting laws.  Our bill proposes practical fixes to the overseas and military absentee voting program that will help ensure the successful participation of every uniformed service member and overseas American in federal elections.”

“Every American should be able to cast a meaningful vote, including our military and overseas voters. This is a fundamental principle in our democracy,” said Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15). “Early voter education and outreach is essential to reaching the approximately 6 million overseas and military voters. If there isn’t adequate infrastructure to conduct this early outreach, let us build one. If ballots of overseas Americans are getting lost in an overly bureaucratic process, let us simplify it.”


The “Overseas Voting Practical Amendments Act” (H.R. 1739):
·    Harmonizes the implementation of UOCAVA across all states and territories.
·    Creates a $10 million competitive grant for nonpartisan organizations to significantly expand outreach, education and services to military and overseas voters;
·    Prohibits refusal of military and overseas absentee voter registration and balloting materials generated by a computer program or downloaded online, or not printed on a specific type of paper, or which otherwise do not meet extraneous requirements that aren't necessary to prevent election fraud;
·    Allows overseas voters to request automatically to receive absentee ballots;
·    Gives military and overseas voters more time to correct registration issues prior Election Day;
·    Ensures that states provide correct information and sufficient postage on pre-addressed ballot return envelopes to prevent overseas mail from going astray.

Click here to view complete bill text.
Click here to view the CRS summary of the bill.

In the 110th Congress, Maloney and Honda both proposed legislation that would provide practical, achievable solutions to the problems facing overseas voters. This legislation combines both bills to provide these necessary solutions. 

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