Military and Overseas Voting

Ensuring That the Election System Works Optimally for All Voters

The Pew Charitable Trusts is committed to ensuring that the election system works optimally for all voters, including those serving in our armed forces and civilians living overseas. Currently, our outmoded system hinders this important group by not giving them time to vote. Pew supports reforms that will bring 21st century technology to America’s election system and guarantee all citizens abroad can participate in our democracy from a distance.

While individual states have adopted a range of improvements, a lack of consistency in voting laws presents one of the greatest challenges to military and overseas citizens attempting to cast their ballot. Primary obstacles include meeting unrealistic deadlines, relying upon 19th century technology to provide information such as blank forms and ballots and requiring notarization of completed ballots. As a result of these combined factors, 25 states and the District of Columbia do not give their military and overseas voters time to vote and have their votes count.

Fortunately, common sense, fact-based solutions are available to solve many of these problems. Based on research in its report, No Time to Vote: Challenges Facing America’s Overseas Military Voters, Pew supports comprehensive reforms by Congress and in the states for military and overseas voters which include the following provisions for voters abroad:

  • Require that ballots are sent out at least 45 days before an election;
  • Use technology to speed delivery of blank ballots and provide election information;
  • Expand the awareness and use of the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot for all federal, state and local elections; and
  • Remove outdated notarization requirements.

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