Crowe co-sponsors legislation approved by State Senate to make it easier for troops deployed overseas to vote

Contact:  Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email:  [email protected]
     (NASHVILLE, TN), February 23, 2010 – Legislation making it easier for troops that are deployed overseas to vote has been approved in the State Senate by a vote of 32 to 0.  The bill, Senate Bill 2681, is co-sponsored by State Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) who is Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Veterans Affairs.
     The bill authorizes a county Election Commission to e-mail 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.  The move would expedite the process so the voter would have more time to make a decision and return their ballot on time. It will also require Tennessee to develop a database that voters overseas can use to see if their ballot has been received by their county election commission to help ensure that their votes are counted.
     “Our troops are making a great sacrifice to provide for our liberty and the freedoms that we enjoy and that too many times are taken for granted,” said Senator Crowe.  “We should do all we can to ensure that their participation in the electoral process is protected and enhanced at all costs.”
     The legislation would help the state comply with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which took effect in October.  That law requires the Department of the Army and Postal Service to expedite the return of ballots by using express mail, since they cannot be returned electronically due to election security concerns.  To assist soldiers and citizens who are living outside the U.S. for work, school or other reasons, the Federal Voting Assistance Program has set up a website where service members can access valuable information and documents to expedite the voting process.  
     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.
     According to Tennessee Adjutant General Max Haston, 5,615 Guard airmen and soldiers are deployed, including Tennessee’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment which deployed from Camp Shelby, Mississippi this month to Kuwait.  The Regiment will be stationed in Iraq.

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