Every vote counts ... unless the mail is late
The New York Times reports: Four years after overseas voting became a battleground in the presidential election in Florida, millions of civilians and soldiers living abroad still face a bewildering and unwieldy system of absentee balloting that could prevent their votes from being counted.
Election officials concede that tens of thousands of Americans overseas might not get ballots in time to cast votes. Late primaries and legal wrangling caused election offices in at least 8 of the 15 swing states to fail to mail absentee ballots by Sept. 19, a cutoff date officials say is necessary to ensure that they can be returned on time, a survey by The New York Times shows. In Florida in 2000, late-arriving ballots became a divisive issue when some were counted and others were disqualified.
The tardy ballots are just one of several setbacks or missteps that have affected the ability of the estimated 4.4 million eligible voters overseas to participate in the presidential election. Some have been unable to send their registrations to a Pentagon contractor's computers, which are clogged by thousands of voter forms. Others were denied access to a Web site designed to help Americans abroad vote. And many voters simply have had trouble navigating the rules and methods that determine how and when to register and vote and that vary by state. ...
To help speed the balloting process, federal officials activated a new system last week in which voters can obtain absentee ballots instantly through the Internet. But the Web site, myballot.mil, will be offered only to members of the military and their families, quickly raising concerns about fairness in a program that the Pentagon has been directed to run for civilians as well. In addition, 23 states have already declined to join the system for various reasons, including security, according to Pentagon and state officials.
People on both sides vying for the overseas vote say the balloting system remains so flawed that some predict legal battles if these votes prove crucial to the outcome of the presidential race. -- Absentee Votes: Hurdles Remain for American Voters Who Live Overseas