[Image courtesy of Pew Center on the States]
Today at the 2012 Overseas Vote Summit in Washington, DC the Pew Center on the States will release Democracy from Afar: States Show Progress on Military and Overseas Voting, a new report updating progress on the issue of military and overseas voting first highlighted by Pew's 2009 report No Time To Vote.
Democracy from Afar finds that "47 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws to protect the voting rights of military and overseas citizens". More specifically, Pew found that "many states have implemented changes to their laws or administrative codes," including -
+ Enough time to vote: 38 states and the District have laws or rules meeting or exceeding federal requirements to send ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before an election AND 8 additional states changed their primary dates to accommodate the requirement;
+ Electronic transmission of unvoted ballots: All states and the District allow military and overseas voters to receive blank ballots electronically;
+ Eliminating requirements for notarization or witnesses: 46 states and the District do not call for either for military and overseas voters; and
+ Expanded use of Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots (FWABs): 34 states and the District mandate FWABs be used as a backup ballot for all elections, including state and local.
All of these changes are summarized state-by-state in a typically handy-dandy Pew chart on page 5 of the report.
It really is remarkable how far this issue has come in about three years; Pew's election team and its huge coalition of partners including OVF, the Pentagon's Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Uniform Law Commission (whose Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act is one ongoing vehicle for state and local reform) should be deeply gratified at everything they have accomplished.
Kudos to Director David Becker and the rest of the team at Pew's Election Initiatives, especially my former colleagues Matthew Morse and Stacie Temple, who skillfully and doggedly rode the rollercoaster of the Congressional and state legislative process to see so many of these changes through.
On behalf of Americans around the world who now have an opportunity to cast a timely and valid ballot - I salute you.