This bill aims to make it easier, 'more reliable' for overseas troops to vote

Abbie Bennett
February 11, 2020 - 9:20 am
Voting

Photo by Spc. Carlynn Knaak/Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs

A new bill introduced Tuesday aims to make it easier and more reliable for deployed troops or those stationed overseas to vote and to have their ballots counted quickly.

The Counting All Military Votes Act, introduced Tuesday by House Republicans and drafted by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., would provide special mailing labels for the military absentee ballots of all deployed active-duty military personnel.

On military bases, there are designated express mail labels provided specifically to expedite and track absentee ballots for on-time delivery. But those special labels aren't available to troops serving at embassies, consulates, diplomatic posts or anywhere lacking military postal operations. Without that label, the ballots can be delayed or the service member must pay out of pocket for a courier service to make sure their ballot arrives on time. 

The bill aims to ensure that all service members who want to exercise their right to vote have access to these labels so their ballots are accurately tracked and arrive quickly to be counted for elections.

More than 10,000 military personnel are currently stationed at nearly 200 embassies, consulates and diplomatic posts overseas, and providing the shipping labels for their ballots will cost an estimated $211,785, according to Davis' staff. 

"Every American has the right to vote, including when serving overseas as deployed active-duty military," Davis said in a statement to Connecting Vets. "Currently, our military serving overseas on posts not under the Department of Defense are unable to expedite their ballots to ensure arrival prior to election day. Counting All Military Votes Act will guarantee all of our military bravely serving overseas will have access to expedited mailing of their ballots, so they can depend on their votes being counted and their voices being heard in our nation's elections." 

“As a U.S. Army veteran who served 47 years ago in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, one of the rights we fought so hard for was the ability to vote for our elected representatives in a democracy," House Veterans Affairs ranking member Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said. "Our troops have to go through a complex process to cast their vote while overseas, and many find it difficult to have their vote counted. Today, I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting the Counting All Military Votes Act to ensure all of our men and women serving abroad in the Armed Forces have their votes counted." 

The bill will head to committee next and will need a vote on the House floor before it can advance to the Senate. If it receives approval in the Senate, it can head to the president's desk for final approval to become law. 

Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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