Election Process Made Easier for Military and Overseas Voters with the
Launch of New Ballot Tool
Washington, DC - 09/15/2008 - An estimated six million Americans who are
members of the military or live overseas have a new way to ensure their
vote for president counts this November, according to experts speaking
at a high-level summit on military and overseas voters. Attended by
members of Congress, secretaries of state and other election officials,
"Democracy at a Distance: A Summit to Make Voting Work for Military and
Overseas Voters" was convened by the Pew Center on the States, in
collaboration with the JEHT Foundation.
At the summit, Pew and the Overseas Vote Foundation launched a new
online tool that allows voters to complete the Federal Write-In Absentee
Ballot (FWAB) more easily and with fewer errors. This tool can be used
by Americans covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee
Voting Act who have requested an absentee ballot from election officials
but have not yet received it.
The need to help military and overseas voters is supported by a new
bipartisan Tarrance/Lake poll commissioned by the Pew Center on the
States and released at the summit. It found 96% of Americans believe
it's important that these voters get the chance to participate and vote
in U.S. elections. The poll results also show that 81% of Americans
favor creating a uniform national set of rules for military and overseas
The new FWAB tool, available at www.overseasvotefoundation.org, provides
an immediate solution for registered voters whose ballots are late or
lost in transit. The site offers easy access to the "Vote-Print-Mail"
"Military and overseas voters do not share an equal opportunity to
vote," said Michael Caudell-Feagan, director of Make Voting Work, a
project of the Pew Center on the States. "According to research from the
U.S. Election Assistance Commission, only one-third of the nearly one
million ballots mailed to these voters were cast or counted in the 2006
general election. FWAB is a powerful tool for these voters."
"It is unacceptable in this day and age that administrative hurdles
should impede the counting of overseas military and civilian votes,"
said Nicole Gordon, vice president of the JEHT Foundation, which has
supported the Overseas Vote Foundation in efforts to partner with states
to facilitate the registration process for overseas voters. "The launch
of the FWAB tool is a significant step in easing and modernizing this
The FWAB tool works by matching users' 9-digit zip code for their U.S.
residence to their voting district. The system automatically presents
candidate lists for federal races in one's district. Voters select their
candidates for office and then download, print, sign and send the FWAB
into the local election office.
"Through our help desk, I've heard thousands of stories from voters who
have been frustrated during presidential campaigns as they anxiously
waited for their absentee ballots to arrive," said Susan
Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President and CEO of Overseas Vote Foundation. "The
new FWAB tool replaces that worry with an immediate, user-friendly,
online and secure process that overseas and military voters from all 50
states and the District of Columbia can use."
For more information about the challenges facing overseas voters, visit
pewcenteronthestates.org and download "Military and Overseas Citizen
Voting Project," an overview developed by the Pew Center on the States.
Make Voting Work, a project of the Pew Center on the States, seeks to
foster an election system that achieves the highest standards of
accuracy, accessibility, efficiency and security. The initiative
examines the most pressing election problems, and undertakes and
evaluates pilot projects and experiments designed to address them. This
research will inform our efforts to identify effective solutions through
changes in policies, practices and technology.
The Pew Charitable Trusts applies the power of knowledge to solve
today's most challenging problems. Our Pew Center on the States
identifies and advances effective policy approaches to critical issues
facing states. Online at pewcenteronthestates.org.
The JEHT Foundation was established in April 2000. Its name stands for
the core values that underlie the Foundation's mission: Justice,
Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. The Foundation focuses on
criminal and juvenile justice, international justice, and fair and
participatory elections. Working directly with states, in some cases
in-depth, is a key part of the Foundation strategy to implement
practical change related to its mission.
JEHT's Fair and Participatory Elections program promotes the integrity
and fairness of democratic elections in the United States. The
Foundation works with state and other government officials and entities,
researchers, and non-partisan reformers to insure technical integrity of
elections by professionalizing the administration of elections,
insulating them from partisan political control, and supporting
independent structures to oversee elections and related functions.(source)