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    Two New Bills Will Expand Enfranchisement of Overseas Voters (November 2007)

    overseas_vote_act.jpgTwo members of the Americans Abroad Caucus have just introduced legislation to streamline overseas voting procedures, ensure that ballots are counted and expand voter information programs overseas.

    Reminding his colleagues in the House of Representatives that “voting is one of the most treasured civil rights in the history of our nation, and we must protect the right to vote for all citizens, regardless of whether they are currently living in the United States,”  Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) has just introduced H.R. 4173, the Overseas Vote Act.  His bill makes technical changes that would make voting from abroad less confusing and frustrating and would significantly expand outreach and education for  civilian overseas voters.  He even asks the State Department to include a page in all new passports explaining procedures for voting from overseas.

    At almost the same time, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 4237 to streamline the voting process for overseas citizens and military personnel living overseas.  Her bill, co-sponsored by Mike Honda, addresses specific issues that have arisen in connection with overseas ballots and ensures that correctly submitted ballots will be accepted and counted. “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.”   

    In addition, both bills expand the voting base by ensuring that U.S. citizens who have not lived long enough in a state to establish residency will be allowed to vote at the voting address of their eligible U.S. citizen parent(s).

    FAWCO urges all overseas Americans to review the provisions of these two bills (go to http://thomas.loc.gov and enter the bill numbers to see a Congressional Research Service summary of their provisions, and their current status). 

    Urge your Representative to do the same, and to co-sponsor this important legislation that can eliminate some of the obstacles that continue to bedevil would-be voters abroad. 

    And finally, join us in thanking Representatives Maloney and Honda for their welcome efforts to protect and facilitate the overseas vote which, estimated at over 3% of the total vote, can make the difference in many Congressional districts!

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