Saturday, October 02, 2004

Hurdles Remain for American Voters Who Live Overseas

The latest in the long litany of Republican attempts to rig the vote. We can attest to the difficulty of voting from abroad: having repeatedly been referred by the US consulate in Sydney to the Federal Voting Assistance Program Website, Jon had been unable to ever access it. It was revealed earlier this week that the Pentagon has been deliberately blocking the site in over 25 countries.

The Pentagon has been unable to keep its story straight: Initially it claimed the site was blocked because of concerns about hacking, it now claims the blockade was 'inadvertent'.

As the New York Times reports (below), the Pentagon has set up a voting assistance site for miltary personnel only. Apparently the Bush regime are assuming that they have the military vote. With one third of military reservists failing to show up for duty this is by no means certain.

New York Times

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.

"I found it so convoluted I gave up," says Alex Campos, a management consultant in London who repeatedly tried to register using the Pentagon program, without success.

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,, 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.

Full Story

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