< Back to H.R. 2393 (111th Congress, 2009–2010)

Text of the Military Voting Protection Act of 2009

This bill was introduced on June 10, 2009, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Oct 1, 2009 (Reported by House Committee).

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Union Calendar No. 158

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2393

[Report No. 111–281]

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 13, 2009

(for himself, Mr. Boren, Mr. Cantor, Mr. Daniel E. Lungren of California, Mr. Harper, and Mr. Tiahrt) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration

October 1, 2009

Additional sponsors: Mr. Olson, Mr. Paulsen, Mr. Thornberry, Mr. McKeon, Mr. Rogers of Alabama, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Franks of Arizona, Mr. Calvert, Mr. Cole, Mr. Young of Alaska, Mr. Brown of South Carolina, Mr. Sensenbrenner, Mr. McClintock, Mrs. McMorris Rodgers, Mrs. Bono Mack, Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Latta, Mr. Gallegly, Mr. Whitfield, Mr. Jones, Mr. Wittman, Mr. Wilson of South Carolina, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Miller of Florida, Mr. Gingrey of Georgia, Mr. Rogers of Kentucky, Mr. Latham, Mr. Kline of Minnesota, Mr. Fleming, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Lamborn, Ms. Granger, Mr. Castle, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Walden, Mr. Shuler, Mrs. Miller of Michigan, and Ms. Fallin

October 1, 2009

Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed


A BILL

To amend the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to improve procedures for the collection and delivery of marked absentee ballots of absent overseas uniformed services voters, and for other purposes.


1.

Short Title

This Act may be cited as the Military Voting Protection Act of 2009.

2.

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

In the defense of freedom, members of the United States Armed Forces are routinely deployed to overseas theaters of combat, assigned to overseas locations, and assigned to ocean-going vessels far from home.

(2)

As the United States continues to fight the Global War on Terror, the substantial need for overseas service by members of the Armed Forces will continue, as we live in what senior Army leaders have referred to as an era of persistent conflict.

(3)

The right to vote is one of the most basic and fundamental rights enjoyed by Americans, and one which the members of the Armed Forces bravely defend both at home in the United States and overseas.

(4)

The decisions of elected officials of the United States Government directly impact the members of the Armed Forces who are often called to deploy or otherwise serve overseas as a result of decisions made by such elected officials.

(5)

The ability of the members of the Armed Forces to vote while serving overseas has been hampered by numerous factors, including inadequate processes for ensuring their timely receipt of absentee ballots, delivery methods that are typically slow and antiquated, and a myriad of absentee voting procedures that are often confusing and vary among the several States.

(6)

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which requires the States to allow absentee voting for members of the Armed Forces and other specified groups of United States citizens, was intended to protect the voting rights of members of the Armed Forces.

(7)

The current system of absentee voting for overseas members of the Armed Forces could be greatly improved by decreasing delays in the process, and certain steps by the Department of Defense, including utilization of express mail services for the delivery of completed absentee ballots, would address the major sources of delay.

3.

Procedures for Collection and Delivery of Marked Absentee Ballots of Absent Overseas Uniformed Services Voters

(a)

In General

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (42 U.S.C. 1973ff et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 103 the following new section:

103A.

Procedures for Collection and Delivery of Marked Absentee Ballots of Absent Overseas Uniformed Services Voters

(a)

Collection

The Presidential designee shall establish procedures for collecting marked absentee ballots of absent overseas uniformed services voters in regularly scheduled general elections for Federal office, including absentee ballots prepared by States and the Federal write-in absentee ballot prescribed under section 103, and for delivering the ballots to the appropriate election officials.

(b)

Ensuring Delivery Prior to Closing of Polls

(1)

In general

Under the procedures established under this section, the Presidential designee shall ensure that any marked absentee ballot for a regularly scheduled general election for Federal office which is collected prior to the deadline described in paragraph (3) is delivered to the appropriate election official in a State prior to the time established by the State for the closing of the polls on the date of the election.

(2)

Utilization of express mail delivery services

The Presidential designee shall carry out this section by utilizing the express mail delivery services of the United States Postal Service.

(3)

Deadline described

(A)

In general

Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the deadline described in this paragraph is noon (in the location in which the ballot is collected) on the fourth day preceding the date of the election.

(B)

Authority to establish alternative deadline for certain locations

If the Presidential designee determines that the deadline described in subparagraph (A) is not sufficient to ensure timely delivery of the ballot under paragraph (1) with respect to a particular location because of remoteness or other factors, the Presidential designee may establish as an alternative deadline for that location the latest date occurring prior to the deadline described in subparagraph (A) which is sufficient to ensure timely delivery of the ballot under paragraph (1).

(c)

Tracking Mechanism

Under the procedures established under this section, the Presidential designee, working in conjunction with the United States Postal Service, shall implement procedures to enable any individual whose marked absentee ballot for a regularly scheduled general election for Federal office is collected by the Presidential designee to determine whether the ballot has been delivered to the appropriate election official, using the Internet, an automated telephone system, or such other methods as the Presidential designee may provide.

(d)

Outreach for Absent Overseas Uniformed Services Voters on Procedures

The Presidential designee shall take appropriate actions to inform individuals who are anticipated to be absent overseas uniformed services voters in a regularly scheduled general election for Federal office to which this section applies of the procedures for the collection and delivery of marked absentee ballots established pursuant to this section, including the manner in which such voters may utilize such procedures for the submittal of marked absentee ballots in the election.

(e)

Reports on Utilization of Procedures

(1)

Reports required

Not later than 180 days after each regularly scheduled general election for Federal office to which this section applies, the Presidential designee shall submit to the relevant committees of Congress a report on the utilization of the procedures for the collection and delivery of marked absentee ballots established pursuant to this section during such general election.

(2)

Elements

Each report under paragraph (1) shall include, for the general election covered by such report, a description of the utilization of the procedures described in that paragraph during such general election, including the number of marked absentee ballots collected and delivered under such procedures and the number of such ballots which were not delivered by the time of the closing of the polls on the date of the election (and the reasons therefor).

(3)

Relevant committees of Congress defined

In this subsection, the term relevant committees of Congress means—

(A)

the Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and Rules and Administration of the Senate; and

(B)

the Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and House Administration of the House of Representatives.

(f)

Absent Overseas Uniformed Services Voter Defined

In this section, the term absent overseas uniformed services voter means an overseas voter described in section 107(5)(A).

(g)

Authorization of Appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Presidential designee such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section.

(h)

Effective Date

This section shall apply with respect to the regularly scheduled general election for Federal office held in November 2010 and each succeeding election for Federal office.

.

(b)

Conforming Amendments

(1)

Federal responsibilities

Section 101(b) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1973ff(b)) is amended—

(A)

by striking and at the end of paragraph (6);

(B)

by striking the period at the end of paragraph (7) and inserting ; and; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(8)

carry out section 103A with respect to the collection and delivery of marked absentee ballots of absent overseas uniformed services voters in elections for Federal office.

.

(2)

State responsibilities

Section 102(a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1973ff–1(a)) is amended—

(A)

by striking and at the end of paragraph (4);

(B)

by striking the period at the end of paragraph (5) and inserting ; and; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(6)

carry out section 103A(b)(2) with respect to the processing and acceptance of marked absentee ballots of absent overseas uniformed services voters.

.

(c)

Report on Status of Implementation

(1)

Report required

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Presidential designee under section 101(a) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act shall submit to the relevant committees of Congress a report on the status of the implementation of the program for the collection and delivery of marked absentee ballots established pursuant to section 103A of such Act, as added by subsection (a).

(2)

Elements

The report under paragraph (1) shall include a status of the implementation of the program and a detailed description of the specific steps taken towards its implementation for November 2010.

(3)

Relevant committees of Congress defined

In this subsection, the term relevant committees of Congress has the meaning given such term in section 103A(e)(3) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, as added by subsection (a).

4.

Protecting Voter Privacy and Secrecy of Absentee Ballots

Section 101(b) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (42 U.S.C. 1973ff(b)), as amended by section 3(b), is amended—

(1)

by striking and at the end of paragraph (7);

(2)

by striking the period at the end of paragraph (8) and inserting ; and; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(9)

to the greatest extent practicable, take such actions as may be required to ensure that absent uniformed services voters who cast absentee ballots at locations or facilities under the Presidential designee’s jurisdiction are able to do so in a private and independent manner, and take such actions as may be required to protect the privacy of the contents of absentee ballots cast by absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters while such ballots are in the Presidential designee’s possession or control.

.

October 1, 2009

Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed