image description U.S. CONGRESSMAN JOE WILSON | Serving South Carolina’s Second District

Press Release

Wilson Opening Statement for Hearing on Military and Overseas Voting

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Washington, DC, Jul 15, 2011 | Neal Patel (2027316987) | comments

On Friday, July 15, 2011, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing entitled “Military Voting.” Chairman Joe Wilson (R-SC) released the following prepared remarks:

 

“Today the Subcommittee meets to hear testimony on military and overseas voting from the Department of Defense, local election officials and a military officer who was a Voting Assistance Officer while deployed to Afghanistan during the 2010 election. Our witnesses have traveled a long distance to help us understand how members of the Armed Forces and their families along with U.S. civilians living and working outside of the United States are afforded the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.  I want to welcome our witnesses and I look forward to their testimony.”

“Voting is a fundamental and essential part of the democratic process.  It is both our right and our duty as citizens of a democracy to set the direction of the Nation by selecting the individuals who will represent us at each level of government.  This responsibility remains with us regardless of where we choose to live and work or, as in the case of our service members, where they are sent to defend our freedom.

“For many years Congress has been concerned about military and overseas voters who have told us about the difficulties they face when they try to cast their ballots.  Registering to vote, receiving a ballot by mail and returning the ballot by mail in time for the vote to count in an election when the voter is not physically located in the U.S. is challenging at best.  One can only imagine the difficulty trying to accomplish that same process when the voter is at a remote outpost in Afghanistan fighting a war.

“Yet, these are the very individuals who, through their military service, protect our right to vote.

“Congress has worked hard over the last several years to ensure that the men and women assigned overseas on behalf of our country do not lose their ability to vote as a result of their service.  A number of federal laws have been enacted to enable the military and U.S. citizens abroad to vote in federal elections. 

“Most recently, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.  The MOVE Act required the Department of Defense to make several changes to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) to improve the process by which military absentee voters cast their ballots.  I look forward to hear from our DOD witness how these improvements have been implemented within the Department.  I am also interested to know how the changes to FVAP affected the military and overseas voter in the 2010 general election.  Were more military and overseas voters able to cast their ballots in time for them to be counted in the election?

“In addition, a successful military voting assistance program depends on the collaborative efforts of the Department of Defense, together with the military voting assistance officers in the field, and state and local election officials.  I am very pleased that we have two local election officials with us today.  They come to us from Lexington County in my home state of South Carolina and from San Diego, California, home to our Ranking Member Susan Davis.  We also have with us today a voting assistance officer who had to find a way to get deployed soldiers the election information they needed.  I look forward to hearing their perspectives on how to best assist military and overseas voters cast an absentee ballot.

“Every day, our troops lay their lives on the line to defend freedom and it is our job to make sure that they are not denied the right to vote.”

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