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H.R. 4393 (99th): Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act


The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), P.L. 99-410, 4 U.S.C. §§ 1973ff–1973ff-6, 39 U.S.C. § 3406, 18 U.S.C. §§ 608–609, is a United States federal law dealing with elections and voting rights for United States citizens residing overseas. The act requires that all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands allow certain U.S. citizens to register to vote and to vote by absentee ballot in federal elections. The act is Public Law 99-410 and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 28, 1986.

Groups of people covered under the act are:

  • Members of the seven Uniformed Services
  • Members of the U.S. Merchant Marine
  • Eligible family members of the above
  • U.S. citizens employed by the federal government residing outside the U.S.
  • Other private U.S. citizens residing outside the United States

The act provides for an emergency back-up ballot, the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), which can be cast by voters who "have made a timely application for but have not received their regular ballot from the state or territory, subject to certain conditions."

The act does not apply to non-federal elections, although some states and territories also allow citizens covered by the UOCAVA to register and vote in state and local elections as well.

This summary is from Wikipedia.

Last updated Oct 11, 2018. Source: Wikipedia

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.


8/12/1986--Passed House amended. (Measure passed House, amended) Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act - Title I: Registration and Voting by Absent Uniformed Services Voters and Overseas Voters in Elections for Federal Office - Directs the President to designate the head of an executive department to have primary responsibility for the administrative functions of this Act, including: (1) prescribing an official postcard form containing a voter registration and an absentee ballot application; (2) prescribing an alternative write-in ballot for overseas voters; (3) prescribing designs for balloting materials; (4) distributing election materials; and (5) reporting to the Congress in even-numbered years on its effectiveness. Provides for the distribution of official postcards and ballots. Sets forth State responsibilities in carrying out provisions of this Act. Authorizes the use of the alternative write-in ballots in lieu of absentee ballots under specified circumstances. Sets forth recommendations to the States to afford maximum access to the polls by absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters. Title II: Postal, Criminal, and General Provisions - Requires that balloting materials under this Act be carried by the Post Office expeditiously and free of postage. Authorizes the mailing of such materials at any post office established outside the United States. Sets forth criminal penalties for violations of this Act. Repeals the Federal Voting Assistance Act of 1955 and the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act of 1975.