Voters Abroad Facing Hurdles: Timing, Technology Put Ballots at Risk

Publication: USA Today

Author: Richard Wolf

07/11/2008 - Millions of Americans abroad, including about 175,000 servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan, face chronic timing and technological problems if they try to vote in this fall's presidential election.

Troubles that caused low turnout in the past will be compounded by 11 late state-office primaries in September or October, which delays mailing absentee ballots. Efforts to expand electronic voting have slowed because of privacy concerns.

"It's going to be a harder year for our soldiers and military personnel and others who are overseas," Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.

This week, FedEx Express and the private Overseas Vote Foundation unveiled an alternative that's speedier -- and usually costlier for voters -- than the snail-like pace of mailed ballots that has beset Americans abroad.

Michael Caudell-Feagan, who directs a voting program for the Pew Center on the States, said electronic voting is the best long-term solution. Yet Election Assistance Commission chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez said the FedEx program "might really change the numbers that we're getting."

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