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“It’s in the Mail” – and That Means It’s Probably Too Late to Count

January 7, 2009

Concord, NH – New Hampshire military voters overseas can follow all state rules on voting, and chances are their ballots still won't arrive in time to be counted. A new study, No Time to Vote, from the Pew Center on the States, finds Massachusetts sends blank ballots to overseas voters later than all but one other state, which makes it tricky for ballots to make it back by the voting deadline.

David Becker, Pew's Make Voting Work project director, says New Hampshire could speed things up with technology.

"Frankly, we're failing in our responsibility to ensure access to our service members serving overseas. Right now, while these voters are serving America, America's voting system is not serving them."

The report recommends the Granite State deliver blank ballots electronically to save time, and extend the deadline for receiving ballots from the overseas voters. Becker's group is designing uniform standards it will recommend to states, including sensible timelines for sending and receiving ballots, and for ensuring the security and privacy of each ballot.

This analysis is the first-ever look into state systems for overseas voters, and Becker points to the good news that about half of the states have policies to ensure overseas votes count. He adds, the issue has grabbed the attention of the right people in many states.

"There are a great number of local election officials that are doing a really great job and doing the best they can with the laws that they're stuck with."

State election officials have been cooperating to enact changes in policies and laws in time for the 2012 election.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - NH