| RON THORNBURGH
Secretary of State
STATE OF KANSAS
|Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1594
For Immediate Release
Monday, December 7, 2009
Stephanie Meyer, Public Information Officer
Office of the Secretary of State
MIDWEST SECRETARIES OF STATE ANNOUNCE
KANSAS CITY, MO. – The top election officials from four Midwest states today announced major improvements to the military voting programs available to the men and women serving our country. The changes are part of the Defense Reauthorization Act, passed by congress last month, and will be in place by the 2010 General Election.
EXPANDED MILITARY VOTING PROGRAM
Secretary Ron Thornburgh of Kansas, Secretary Robin Carnahan of Missouri, Secretary Michael Mauro of Iowa, and Secretary John Gale of Nebraska met in Kansas City today to discuss the changes and affirm their commitment to ensuring every man and woman in military service can conveniently and securely cast a ballot.
Major changes mandated by the Act include implementing a tracking system that will allow military voters to verify their ballot has been received by their local election authority. Additionally, those serving in the military will now be able to receive their absentee ballots through a secure, electronic method up to 45 days in advance of the election. The Act applies to military personnel living overseas, their dependents, and other non-military citizens living abroad.
“I believe we should do everything we can to increase the ease in which our troops are able to cast their vote, without compromising the integrity of our elections system. Expanding ballot options to include secure e-mail submissions is the natural next step in this process. What once took weeks can now be accomplished with the click of a mouse,” said Thornburgh.
To return the ballot, expedited mail service will be made available to military voters at no cost. Without expedited service, a study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts found it can take 18 days to transmit mail to or from an overseas military voter, often making it difficult for ballots to arrive in time to be counted. In addition, uniform deadlines and rules from state to state will help ease confusion at military bases where men and women from across the country are serving together.
Kansas has adopted several laws over the years to facilitate voting by overseas citizens. The ballot application process has been simplified, voting may be done by fax, and beginning in 2006, overseas voters are allowed to apply for and receive ballots by e-mail in areas where mail delivery is slow or unreliable.