~ Background on Express Mail Legislation ~

According the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Voting Assistance it takes as long as 3 weeks for a ballot to be delivered home from overseas.  Many ballots are not counted for the simple reason that they are late.
The PEW Center for States Report “No time to Vote” found that 25 states were deficient in their methods for dealing with overseas military voters.  But changing 25 state laws is difficult, and some changes may involve forcing a state to change the date on which a state holds its primary election.  Speeding the delivery of military ballots from overseas can be done more quickly than changing state laws, and will also ensure that voters can cast their ballots closer to the date of the election, when voter interest is highest, and when undecided voters have had a chance to observe more of the campaign, including late-in-the-campaign debates.

There are four potential solutions for ensuring votes are returned in time and counted.  We believe that express mail delivery is by far the best.  Here are the four possible solutions:

1. Faxing ballots:
This sacrifices secrecy of the ballot.  Military voters deserve the right to a secret ballot.

2. Allowing election officials to accept ballots received after the close of polls on Election Day:

Defect: Election officials may not be able to guarantee the validity and integrity of a postmark from overseas, so there is potential for fraud, especially in a close election where the day after an election an overseas voter or group of voters may realize that a few extra votes could make a big difference.

The post-election deadline solution could become a precedent and a slippery slope for non-military ballots where postmark security is far from certain.

Allowing ballots to be received after the close of the polls on Election Day may also delay a determination of the outcome of an election.

3. Voting on a Pentagon computer server or using the Internet or other electronic ballot transmission

Defect: There is a risk of hacking from outside sources (a foreign power or other entity), from inside sources (one or more corrupt, blackmailed or ideologically motivated insiders) or worst of all from collaboration between inside and outside sources.  A recent National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) study raises serious concerns about the integrity and security of Internet voting.

Future improvements in technology might reduce the risk of hacking but it is difficult to convince all of the public that any system absolutely cannot be hacked. The key to the legitimacy of an election is that virtually all voters accept that the election was run honestly.   Voter confidence is a critical component of an election system.

4. The express mail solution:
We believe the best solution for right now is to establish a federally funded express mail delivery system for completed ballots. In 2009 military voters needed to mail their ballots 3 weeks before the election to ensure that they were delivered on time.  An express mail delivery system established by federal law could get ballots delivered in 4 days.  Military voters could deposit their ballot by Friday before the general election and have the ballot delivered to their local election office by the close of polls on Election Day.

In the 2006 election only 1/3 of the million ballots distributed to military and overseas voters were actually counted according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. In 2008 many overseas voters’ ballots were not counted as well.
There are many problems that prevent military votes from being counted, but the easiest one to solve is the lack of timely ballot delivery from overseas. 

~ History of Express Mail Legislation ~

For many years, delivery of military ballots from overseas could take as long as three weeks. In 2005 and again in 2008 The National Association of Secretaries of State unanimously endorsed an express mail solution to reduce delivery time to 4 days. In 2008, legislation to establish the express mail system was introduced by California Representative Kevin McCarthy, now House Republican Chief Deputy Whip, and Texas Senator John Cornyn, now head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The legislation was passed in the Senate but killed by Democratic Party leaders in the House, allegedly because postal unions, specifically the Rural Letter Carriers Union, opposed allowing anyone but union workers to carry ballots. 
New legislation introduced by Sen. Cornyn and Rep. McCarthy in 2009 forced Congress to act. The M.O.V.E. Act enacted in late 2009 established an express mail system, but gives the Postal Service a monopoly on delivery of overseas military ballots and allows 1 week delivery of military ballots, not the 4 days that open competition among express mail providers could achieve.  As a result military voters who mail their ballots less than 1 week before a general election could be disenfranchised.

In July of 2010, the National Association of Secretaries of State unanimously passed a Resolution calling on Congress to fix the M.O.V.E. Act by ending the monopoly on overseas ballot delivery and shortening the delivery time from 7 days to 4 days. http://www.nass.org

 On July 30, 2010, Rep. McCarthy and other Members of Congress introduced H.R. 6009, to end the monopoly of the U.S. Postal Service and shorten delivery time for military ballots from overseas from 7 days to 4 days, starting in 2012.   The Obama Administration's Department of Defense says it is too late to speed up delivery for 2010.
~ Suggested Action for Military Voting Rights Advocates ~

Send us an email so you can receive regular updates on the latest developments. 
Email us at:  INFO@MvrUSA.ORG

Contact House and Senate Members in your area and urge them to support the fastest possible delivery of overseas military ballots.  Urge House Members to co-sponsor H.R. 6009 and Senators to introduce similar legislation. The Congressional phone number to call is 202-224-3121. 

Just ask for your Representative’s or Senator’s office by name and the main operator will connect you to that office.  Ask to speak to the legislative staff that handles military voting rights issues. 

Keep track of the name of the person you speak with and the response that you receive.  Don’t be shy about following up to see what action your Representative or Senator has taken.  Email the names and responses you get to us at at our email address:
Info@MilitaryVotingRightsUSA.Org  OR for easier access Info@MvrUSA.Org

Contact local media, including newspapers and talk shows, and blog on the web to announce your support of this legislation. Urge people to go to this website:

MilitaryVotingRightsUSA.Org" or for easier access "MvrUSA.Org”. 
Send us copies of articles and posts.

Contact friends and potentially interested organizations and recruit them to get involved.  Organizations can pass resolutions and urge their group’s members to support the bill.  Send us the names of interested persons and any lists that might be useful.
Talk to friends who will do the same and get them to send us an email so they can receive updates.

 The grassroots movement we build can make the difference for military voters serving America around the world!  If you would like to help in any way, Join Us by sending an email to:

Info@MilitaryVotingRightsUSA.Org (or for easier access)