THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Three senior US Senators have sent letters to over 20 American embassies around the world asking for updates on how they are supporting overseas Americans to vote in the 2020 US Elections.
The letter, signed by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), raises concerns that "postal delays" may "affect the voting rights of American citizens living overseas", and asks the Embassies a series of questions on how they are making sure overseas Americans "can safely vote during the COVID-19 pandemic".
The letter has been sent to Embassies in 21 countries: Canada, Mexico, France, Japan, Australia, Israel, Germany, Italy, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Costa Rica, China, Brazil, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Argentina.
Explaining why they sent the letter, the Senators write that "In 2016, only about seven percent of all eligible overseas voters returned a valid ballot… We are deeply concerned that delays and confusion resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will make matters worse. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has warned election officials across the U.S. that the delivery of election mail may be delayed, and the situation may be even worse for many voters living overseas. According to the USPS, as of July 10, 92 countries were experiencing mail disruptions related to the pandemic. Reports further indicate that embassies and consulates across the world are limiting services in order to protect employees from COVID-19, including services related to voting assistance and diplomatic shipments. These circumstances present significant obstacles to overseas voters returning their ballots in time to be counted".
The Senators ask questions such as how Embassies are taking steps to help overseas Americans, existing expected mailing delays, the availability of consular services, and other questions relating to the amount of support offered to make the voting process simpler for Americans living abroad.
Reacting to the letter, Democrats Abroad Global Chair, Julia Bryan, said that "Democrats Abroad very much appreciates the outreach these senators are doing on behalf of voters abroad. With the massive mail slow downs we are seeing with mail delivery to the US, all voters need this support. We stand ready to help spread the word about updates in embassy procedures."
The US Embassy in the UK recently hosted a webinar with the FVAP on overseas voting, which can be re-watched on Facebook. The Embassy is also offering the use of its diplomatic pouch service for the submission of Federal Post Card Applications.
For details on the letter sent by the Senators, including an original copy of the letter, go to www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/news-releases?ID=546E3F68-8258-4510-A830-BC6083E10405.