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US Vote Foundation calls for Mail Ballot expansion in States

A system which benefits overseas Americans could help US Citizens in the States

Published on March 10, 2020

The US Vote Foundation has called for Congress to allow all US Citizens to request a vote-by-mail option ahead of the 2020 Elections for President and Congress.

The Foundation, which supports US Citizens both domestically and internationally to vote in US Elections, is proposing the move as a solution to the spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. Explaining, Michael Steele, Chairman of US Vote and its Overseas Vote initiative, said that "Ensuring voters can vote from home is a responsible and forward-thinking policy action that Congress should include in its response to the current public health situation ... It is impossible for voters to predict whether they will be healthy and able to vote in-person. They should be assured they can vote safely with an absentee vote-by-mail ballot."

Such a change would also bring the rules for Americans living in the US in line with those living overseas. All US Citizens living overseas are entitled to request a vote-by-mail option as a matter of course. However for US based citizens, 33 states currently allow voters to request a ballot by mail without providing a reason, while 17 states (including Texas and New York) and 5 territories do not. Overseas and military voters use a federally mandated single form, often referred to as the “FPCA” (Federal Post Card Application). US Vote Foundation is calling for this mechanism to be utilized in the States to allow all Americans in the USA to request a vote by mail option. US Vote President and CEO, Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, explained that "This single form allows voters to simultaneously register to vote and request their ballot; no dual filing. It is already in use across all states for vote-by-mail. Allowing expanded use by domestic voters would be an efficient solution".

As well as a potential solution to the problems posed by Coronavirus, the news is also a timely reminder that overseas Americans are able to register to vote by mail when living abroad. The process for registering your ballot from abroad is detailed via the US Embassy London in their "Your Vote Counts 2020" page - see uk.usembassy.gov/your-vote-counts.

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