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Overseas/Military Voting

Overseas Vote Foundation Predicts Unprecedented Overseas and Military Voter Participation PDF  | Print |  Email
By Overseas Vote Foundation   
October 02, 2008
Presidential Campaigns Join Overseas and Military Voter Outreach Effort

Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) is fielding record levels of online activity from overseas and military voters and views this as a key indicator of potentially unprecedented high levels of voter participation of overseas and military voters in Election 2008.  

Over 2 million visitors have come to the OVF website, or an OVF hosted website in 2008. The month of September averaged 25,000 visits per day to the combined total of 17 OVF hosted websites. Of the tens of thousands of voters that OVF has helped to register, 26% are first-time voters, for 70% this is the first time they will vote from overseas, and 35% are under 30 years of age.  The voting experience of these new and young voters is significant as it may affect their inclination to vote again in the future.

Both the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin campaigns are championing customized versions of OVF's services for overseas and military voters as part of their notable efforts to reach out to a voter group that becomes ever more important when facing the prospect of razor-thin margins in some voting districts. Their respective overseas and military voter services websites, and are integrated into their official campaign sites and serve to send a new and strategic message of recognition to overseas and military voters about the importance of their votes.
Veterans Department Creates Roadblocks to Voter Registration for Injured Vets PDF  | Print |  Email
By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet   
April 21, 2008
This article was posted at AlterNet and is reposted here with permission of the author.

On the same day the Pentagon's commander in Iraq told the Senate that new troop withdrawals could not considered for months, Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B. Peake told two Democratic senators that his department *will not help injured veterans at VA facilities to register to vote before the 2008 election.*

"VA remains opposed to becoming a voter registration agency pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act, as this designation would divert substantial resources from our primary mission," Peake said in an April 8 letter to Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John Kerry, D-Mass. He was referring to a 1993 federal law that allows government agencies to host voter registration efforts.

..."The Department of Veterans Affairs should provide voter materials to veterans," Feinstein said. "I believe the cost of providing these voter materials is minimal. It's a small price to pay for the sacrifice these men and women have made in fighting for our nation's freedom. I am disappointed."

"You'd think that when so many people give speeches about keeping faith with our veterans, the least the government would do is protect their right to vote, after they volunteered to go thousands of miles from home to fight and give that right to others," Kerry said. "And yet we've seen the government itself block veterans from registering to vote in VA facilities, without any legal basis or rational explanation.

"But the VA's response is not unique among government agencies, according to Michael Slater, deputy director of Project Vote, which is organizing registration drives across the country in 2008.
Internet Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
By Dan Wallach, Rice University   
February 04, 2008
(or, how I learned to stop worrying and love having the whole world know exactly how I voted)

This article was posted at Ed Felten's blog Freedom to Tinker and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Tomorrow is “Super Tuesday” in the United States. Roughly half of the delegates to the Democratic and Republican conventions will be decided tomorrow, and the votes will be cast either in a polling place or through the mail. Except for the votes cast online. Yes, over the Internet.

The Libertarian Party of Arizona is conducting its entire primary election online. Arizona’s Libertarian voters who wish to participate in its primary election have no choice but to vote online. Also, the Democratic Party is experimenting with online voting for overseas voters.

Abridged history: The U.S. military has been pushing hard on getting something like this in place, most famously commissioning a system called “SERVE”. To their credit, they hired several smart security people to evaluate their security. Four of those experts published an independent report that was strongly critical of the system, notably pointing out the obvious problem with such a scheme: home computers are notoriously insecure. It’s easy to imagine viruses and whatnot being engineered to specifically watch for attempts to use the computer to vote and to specifically tamper with those votes, transparently shifting votes in the election. The military killed the program, later replacing it with a vote-by-fax scheme. It’s unclear whether this represents a security improvement, but it probably makes it easier to deal with the diversity of ballot styles.

Internet voting has also been used in a variety of other places, including Estonia. An Estonian colleague of mine demonstrated the system for me. He inserted his national ID card (a smartcard) into a PCMCIA card reader in his laptop. This allowed him to authenticate to an official government web site where he could then cast his vote. He was perfectly comfortable letting me watch the whole process because he said that he could go back and cast his vote again later, in private, overriding the vote that I saw him cast. This scheme partly addresses the risk of voter coercion and bribery (see sidebar), but it doesn’t do anything for the insecurity of the client platform.

Okay, then, how does the Arizona Libertarian party do it? You can visit their web site and click here to vote. I went as far as a web page, hosted by, which asked me for my name, birth year, house address number (i.e., for “600 Main Street”, I would enter “600″), and zip code. Both this web page and the page to which it “posts” its response are “http” pages. No cryptography is used, but then the information you’re sending isn’t terribly secret, either. Do they support Estonian-style vote overriding? Unclear. None of the links or information say a single word about security. The lack of SSL is strongly indicative of a lack of sophistication (although they did set a tracking cookie to an opaque value of some sort).
Voting Can Be a Real Battle for U.S. Troops and Others Overseas in the 2008 Primaries PDF  | Print |  Email
By The Century Foundation   
November 30, 2007

New Report from The Century Foundation Explores Problems Facing Military and Overseas Voters and Offers Ideas for Assuring Their Rights


Download the Century Foundation Report


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.

Rep. Maloney Introduces Bill to Protect the Rights of Overseas Voters PDF  | Print |  Email
By Rep. Carolyn Maloney Press Release   
November 16, 2007
New Bill Would Help Streamline Voting Process


Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the Americans Abroad Caucus, has introduced legislation to protect the voting rights of the millions of American citizens currently living overseas. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, about two-thirds of the absentee ballots requested for last year’s general election by overseas Americans were not counted. Ballots either weren't received in time, were sent to an incorrect address, or filled out incorrectly.



“Right now, far too many overseas Americans – including many of the brave men and women serving in our military – are being disenfranchised by a tangle of bureaucratic red tape.  We have a responsibility to make it as easy as possible for all patriotic, tax-paying Americans to vote,” said Maloney. “Americans living overseas shouldn’t be forced to deal with a voting system that is more complicated and less reliable.  My bill proposes simple inexpensive fixes that will help change that, and ensure the votes of every overseas American are counted.”