New Bill Would Expand Voting Rights For Overseas Service Members

Excerpted from DEFCON HILL

New legislation from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) would toughen the rules for states to mail absentee ballots to service members.

The bill that was introduced Wednesday would update a 2010 law requiring states to mail ballots to troops serving overseas 45 days before an election. The new legislation would remove the ability for states to apply for a waiver to the 45-day deadline.

The senators said that three years after the initial legislation was passed, the hardship waiver provision is no longer needed.

In addition, the bill requires states that miss the 45-day deadline to express-mail the ballots to service members, and potentially allow the troops to express-mail the ballots back.

Schumer and Cornyn, who are both members of their party’s leadership, said they hope to include the bill as an amendment to the 2014 defense authorization bill.

That bill, which has passed for five decades straight, will be taken up on the floor later this year.

The two senators authored the 2010 law in order to ensure all military members stationed overseas have an opportunity to vote, which was an issue in the 2008 election.

The lawmakers said that the new bill would make “critical adjustments” to the implementation of the 2010 law.


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