Connecticut Democrats have hailed the passage of a bill that will make it easier for members of the armed forces serving overseas to vote. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.
Service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq are often operating in areas without paved roads and where contact with the outside world is intermittent at best. Yet until now they’ve had to rely on the postal service to allow them to vote. In 2004, Joel Angle was serving in Iraq, protecting the citizens of Kirkuk as they went to the polls, and at the same time trying to vote himself in the US Presidental election.
"So we eventually got absentee ballots provided through the military, but by the time we’d submitted them, they weren’t received on time, so they probably weren’t counted into the official numbers. So I remember feeling like, we’re over here risking our lives, but we didn’t really get to participate in the system."
Second District congressman Joe Courtney says he found that’s a common experience when he was visiting troops overseas last December.
"People were very excited about a new president coming into office, wanted to hear all about him, and what was the buzz in Washington DC. But at every single stop there was a damper over that conversation due to the fact that none of the folks from Connecticut that I met were able to actually cast their ballot – it was stunning to me."
Essentially the MOVE or Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, allows the use of email and fax to facilitate voting, and requires states to develop procedures to use electronic absentee ballots. Previously it’s taken almost two months for serving troops to register their votes from overseas, but Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz says the act will remedy that.
"It essentially will cut 24 days off of that 57 day period and make it much easier for our service people to vote." Bysiewicz has proposed similar bills in the Connecticut General Assembly in the last two sessions.