Saturday, January 09, 2010

Military Ballot Update from The Hill

Pentagon seeks to ensure voting access for service members in midterm vote

The Pentagon is moving aggressively to ensure that military members deployed overseas can cast votes in the 2010 midterm elections.

The Defense Department’s Federal Voting Assistance program this week started its training program for voting assistance officers at military bases worldwide. Based on a Pentagon directive, a voting assistance officer needs to be at every unit level.

Military and overseas voters now have to submit a federal post card application every year instead of every two or four years.

Every voting assistance officer has to hand deliver or email a federal post card application to every military member by January 15 and get the word out about the importance of sending the application card to election officials in 2010, said a Pentagon spokeswoman.There are about 6 million uniformed and overseas citizens who vote absentee. Embassies and consulates overseas also must have voting assistance officers on hand. For example, close to 100,000 U.S. troops will be deployed to Afghanistan by the November midterm election.

Over the next several months, U.S. troops in Iraq will decrease from about 110,000 to 50,000. Only about six or seven out of every 10 absentee ballots cast by military members are successfully cast. In the general population about nine out of every 10 absentee ballots are successfully cast, according to Bob Carey, Federal Voting Assistance Program director.

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