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Reliable online voting for everyone will, in all likelihood, never be a reality, experts say. But in 2020, many states give military and overseas voters the option to transmit their absentee ballots online.
Members of the Armed Services and their families, diplomats, and private United States citizens living abroad all have the right to vote absentee in federal elections under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), a law first passed in the 1980s and further expanded with the MOVE Act, which was passed by Congress in 2009.
Voters covered under UOCAVA have the option to request a ballot for every election in a given year, have that ballot mailed to them no later than 45 days before the election, return it without needing to pay postage, and also have access to a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot that they can fill out if they don’t receive the requested ballot in time.
And while all voters are required to mail their ballots by Election Day, most states also give overseas and military voters additional time for their ballots to arrive and be counted after the general election.
Every state allows overseas and military voters to return their ballots by mail, and the majority also offer the option to do so by some digital means. In 2020, 32 states will permit voters covered under UOCAVA to return their ballots via fax, email, and in a few states, with an online portal, according to the Overseas Vote Foundation.
A few states, like Iowa, Missouri, and Texas, limit electronic return options to military service members deployed in a hostile fire zone or those who are eligible for imminent danger pay.
Many military voters, and especially those deployed in remote locations without reliable access to mail service, face challenges when it comes to accessing the ballot and making sure their vote is counted.
Military voters have routinely voted at much lower levels than the general US electorate as a whole, Axios reported in 2019.
While nearly 50% of the US’ voting-eligible population came out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections — a record for a modern midterm election — just 31% of active-duty military voters cast a ballot that year.
Military voters are also much more likely to have their absentee ballots rejected than domestic voters who vote by mail. The 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey conducted by the US Election Assistance Commission found that nationwide, 3% of returned absentee ballots from military and overseas voters were rejected compared to 1% for the domestic electorate.
Of the rejected UOCAVA ballots, nearly half were disqualified for arriving past the state’s deadline and about 16% were rejected for problems with voters’ signatures. Online voting can help mitigate both these problems.
Some states require military and overseas voters to print out, hand-sign, and scan their ballots back to be returned to their election officials in PDF form via email or through an online portal while a select few permit those voters to mark, electronically sign, and return …read more
Source:: Business Insider