February 9, 2010
(NASHVILLE, TN), February 9, 2010 — State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) has introduced legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to make it easier for troops deployed overseas to vote in the next election. The bill, Senate bill 2681, comes as Tennessee’s largest National Guard unit is scheduled to deploy this week from Camp Shelby, Mississippi to Iraq.
“We need to do everything in our power to make it easier for our soldiers, who are defending our freedoms overseas, to have the opportunity to vote,” said Senator Ketron. “It is the least we can do as they have certainly earned that right and that respect.”
The bill authorizes a county Election Commission to email a ballot to each member of the armed forces, as well as citizens temporarily outside the United States, who are entitled to vote and who have submitted a valid application for a ballot. Ketron said the move would expedite the process so the voter will have more time to make a decision and return their ballot before the deadline. The legislation would also help the state comply with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which took effect in October.
According to the Pew Center on the States, about half of overseas voters fail to vote or to have their votes counted because of current voting rules. Tennessee had approximately 18,686 overseas voters who participated in the November 2008 election.
“We can use technology to increase ballot access to our troops overseas and still maintain ballot security,” added Ketron. “I am very pleased to sponsor this legislation to encourage voter participation among our soldiers serving us in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Tennessee’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment consists of more than 3,300 soldiers from across the state. Ketron is Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Senator Dolores Gresham is co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate, while Representatives Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga), Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), Joe Carr (R-Lascassas), Jim Cobb (R-Spring City), and Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) are House sponsors of the measure.