Legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress aims to strengthen oversight of the overseas voting process in order to alleviate numerous obstacles facing U.S. military personnel and civilians who are living overseas.
The "Fixing the Federal Voting Assistance Program Act of 2009" was introduced earlier this year by RPCV Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) who stated in a press release "It's troubling that Americans abroad, from the men and women in our armed forces to business professionals to Peace Corps volunteers cannot exercise their right to vote."
While there have been attempts to reform overseas voting in the past, citizens not residing in the United States continue to face obstacles when trying to cast their ballot.
According to the Pew Center on the States, nearly 28% of overseas ballots from the 2008 election were returned, lost or rejected. Citizens residing overseas must surpass many hurdles in order to have their ballot counted including battling with mediocre ballot delivery methods and dealing with overly stringent and outdated state voting laws.
The legislation would create an oversight board, the Federal Voting Assistance Office, which would monitor the overseas voting process. This board would report annually to Congress on improvements to the process. Congressman Honda notes "As a former Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, I know how difficult it is for overseas Americans to cast a meaningful ballot. The statistics are daunting and unforgivable."