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Duckworth Leads Request for Review of DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program

Apr 1, 2015
Press Release

Duckworth Leads Request for Review of DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 1, 2015)—Today, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led every Democratic and Republican Member of the Oversight Committee in writing a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to request a review of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).  Recent press reports indicate that service members and citizens living abroad may be facing difficulties in casting their absentee ballots.

The purpose of the FVAP is to ensure that military personnel, their dependents, as well as overseas citizens are guaranteed the right to vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.  

 “Being able to vote is a right all Americans should have – especially those serving in our armed forces,” Duckworth said. “I look forward to the review of the FVAP Program, and will continue working to ensure our bravest citizens are not met with barriers when trying to exercise their right to participate in our democracy.”

Although turnout during the 2008 presidential election was reportedly the highest in more than 40 years, that trend was not evident based on a review of overseas balloting. According to a report published by the Heritage Foundation, “the 2008 election data makes it clear that a vast majority of military voters (an estimated 75 to 80 percent) were disenfranchised by their inability to request an absentee ballot.”  In Florida, Texas and California, states which account for nearly 40 percent of military voters, “less than a quarter of military voters and their dependents requested an absentee ballot for the 2008 Presidential election.”  In Minnesota, which has the nation’s highest voter participation rate, only 15.8 % of the state’s 23,346 military voters were able to cast an absentee ballot.

“Public reports indicate that veterans and their families have had a hard time casting their absentee ballots in various states,” the Members wrote. “The Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program was created to ensure that our service members fighting abroad to protect the rights of all Americans don’t lose their opportunity to vote in federal elections at home.”

In their letter, the Members request that GAO assess the extent to which DOD implemented previous GAO recommendations pertaining to their efforts to facilitate registration, voting options, and ballot transmission methods for UOCAVA voters; the extent to which DOD has evaluated their absentee voting program and any challenges that remain regarding its effectiveness and efficiency; whether or not DOD should make changes to the absentee voting program to adjust to revised United States Postal Service delivery standards; and steps Congress can take to address challenges facing the FVAP.

Click here to read the full letter.

114th Congress