Washington, DC -
05/28/2010 - Florida took meaningful steps forward today to address the disenfranchisement of military and overseas voters and answer a call first issued by President Harry Truman nearly 60 years ago. HB 131, which implements provisions in the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act and resolves key voting problems for Americans abroad, was signed by Governor Charlie Crist.
Since Florida is one of the top three states with a significant military population, the legislation is critical to ensure that service members and citizens overseas have the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted. Representative Sandra Adams (R-District 33) sponsored the bill and championed the passage of the bipartisan legislation.
The legislation removes obstacles that military and overseas voters commonly encounter by:
- mandating that absentee ballots for all elections be sent at least 45 days before an election for all military and overseas voters; and
- requiring e-mail transmission of blank absentee ballots to all military and overseas voters for all elections upon request.
"Representative Adams' legislation moves Florida in the right direction by satisfying the federal MOVE Act requirements and making it easier for American military and overseas voters to participate in our democracy," said Doug Chapin, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States. "We look forward to continuing to work with Florida's Department of State to consider opportunities to further improve the process for these voters."
In 1952, President Truman urged reform of an election system that disenfranchised those serving in the military in World War II and in the post-war reconstruction. A Pew report, No Time to Vote, documented that military and overseas voters still face significant obstacles to casting a ballot. The Pew Center on the States is working on a full complement of election system reforms for military personnel and civilians abroad. In addition, Pew is partnering with state election officials and Google to develop the Voting Information Project which will harness modern information technologies to get voters, no matter where they reside, the election information they need. Pew has also been examining the problems posed by the nation's outdated voter registration system and is collaborating with election officials to evaluate options for building a system that is more efficient and accurate, while reducing costs and administrative burdens.