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Monday, 3rd December 2007

Voting Can Be a Real Battle For U.S. Troops and Others Overseas in the 2008 Primaries

Voting Can Be a Real Battle For U.S. Troops and Others Overseas in the 2008 Primaries
Source: The Century Foundation

U.S. Troops in Iraq and other places around the world are center stage in this year’s presidential elections. But when it comes to casting votes for the candidates, American soldiers and other U.S. citizens living abroad often face daunting obstacles. A new report from The Century Foundation sheds light on this problem, which has received surprisingly little public attention. It also warns that with a frontloaded primary system and a large number of caucuses, U.S. military personnel and other citizens living abroad could find it more difficult than ever to have their votes count.

In “Bringing Voting Rights to Military and Overseas Voters,” report author Tova Wang, Democracy Fellow at The Century Foundation, explains how difficult it is for military and overseas voters to vote, examines the problems encountered in making sure that their votes are counted, and suggests reforms for both easing the procedural problems and improving turnout among this often neglected group of voters.

According to the report, a survey by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) showed that only 5.5 percent of eligible military and overseas voters actually participated successfully in the 2006 election. The EAC survey and reports by the Department of Defense indicate that the most common reasons for the rejection of a military or overseas ballot is that it is received past the deadline or that the requested ballot sent to the voter is returned as undeliverable because the voter—who could be in a war zone—has moved from his or her previous location. Earlier studies have found that many overseas and military voters did not vote in the 2000 election because they received their absentee ballot too late or had not received it at all.

+ Full Report (PDF; 235 KB)


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