House OKs easier military and overseas voting

House OKs easier military and overseas voting

Military patrolThe Washington House has unanimously approved legislation to make it easier for military and overseas voters to cast ballots electronically.

The 96-0 vote on House Bill 2483 came Friday after sponsors in both parties characterized it as a fitting tribute to the thousands of soldiers who serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the globe. The bill also would make voting easier for relief workers, business people, Peace Corps members, missionaries and others who are away from home.

The bill doesn’t authorize online voting, but does make it easier for overseas and military folks to cast ballots from abroad by allowing counties to email ballots to them. The voter would then print out the ballot, sign it, scan it, and either email it or snail-mail it back to the county.  The ballot could be processed without the county having to wait for the actual paper ballot to arrive back at the elections office, as current law requires. That requirement essentially makes faxing or emailing a ballot useless and confuses voters.Recently enacted federal legislation, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act says voters must be allowed to designate how they wish to receive their ballots, by mail or electronically.

The House vote came as Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, head of the state military department and the National Guard, watched from the speaker’s rostrum and uniformed personnel looked on from the galleries. Military and veterans’ organizations are among the strongest supporters of the bill.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, who requested the bill as the highest priority of the state Elections Division this session, said he’s “delighted with the speedy, unanimous House vote.”  He and Elections Director Nick Handy said they hope the strong House send-off will encourage the Senate to show the same sense of urgency and priority for our military and overseas voters.

Faxed or emailed ballots are already counted in 20 states:  Oregon, Alaska, Montana, California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

In the 2008 General Election in Washington, over 67,000 military and overseas ballots were mailed out and about 49,000 were returned, for a turnout of about 73 percent. The overall turnout was a record 85 percent.

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3 thoughts on “House OKs easier military and overseas voting

  1. As a proud supporter of increased voting opportunities for military and overseas voters, a strong word of caution must come with congratulations on this initiative.


    Using the internet for outgoing blank ballots and information is extremely helpful and ready to use safely today. But using the internet for incoming voted ballots – including emailed and fax ballots – is entirely insecure and dishonors those who serve to provide this country the security we all cherish. They should only be used as temporary placeholders, allowing extra time to military and overseas paper ballots to arrive in the mail. This is the only way they are allowed in some of the states listed in the article above.

    The recently passed federal MOVE Act streamlined the process without the use of electronically transmitted incoming ballots (email, fax or internet voting) and was strongly suppored by most every military advocacy organization, as well as computer scientists and public advocacy groups.

    We hope Washinton will pause to truly honor its military and overseas voters but understanding this important distinction about electronicly transmitted election materials – outgoing: good – incoming: not good.

    Well done for taking the time to improve options for these Washington voters. Please finish the job by ensuring email, fax and internet voting are not allowed as part of this worthy initiative.


    -Dan McCrea, President
    Florida Voters
    Member, Alliance for Overseas and Military Voting Rights (AMOVR)

  2. I take time to reflect and be thankful for the sacrifices soldiers & families continue to make around the world in the name of freedom.

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