Get In the Vote – GAO issues scathing report on voting woes for military members

November 15th, 2007

This article was first published on Reserve Office Association website.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, on June 14 issued a report lambasting the efforts of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Election Assistance Commission in administering the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and facilitating the enfranchisement of members of the armed forces, their family members, and American citizens residing abroad. The report, GAO-07-774, is titled “Elections: Action Plans Needed to Fully Address Challenges in Electronic Absentee Voting Initiatives for Military and Overseas Citizens” and is available on GAO’s website, www.gao.gov.

In most places, absentee voting is still conducted in much the same way it was during World War II, by shipping pieces of paper across oceans and continents. There are three time-consuming steps in absentee voting. First, the absentee ballot request must travel from the voter to the election official back home. Second, the unmarked absentee ballot must travel from the election official to the voter. Finally, the marked absentee ballot must travel from the voter back to the hometown election official. Each of these steps can take weeks by mail, but only seconds if secure electronic means were authorized. It should be noted that the military voter, particularly, frequently deploys to a crisis point or redeploys to the United States, often on short notice, making it most difficult to deliver the unmarked absentee ballot.

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