Charleston, W.Va. – Military voters from West Virginia have many options to make sure they exercise one of the most sacred American rights: the right to vote.
“Deployed military voters and their families deserve both our respect and our best efforts to make sure there are no barriers keeping them from voting,” Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said. “I have said that our democracy is only as strong as our most vulnerable voter. A deployed military member, who may be overseas defending our right to vote, should never be our most vulnerable voter.”
A new law that allows returning military members to register to vote up to the day before an election goes into effect June 8. Tennant’s office supported the bill as part of their continuing push to assist military members and their families exercise their right to vote. Voters who are covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986 and who are deployed in support of national security functions would be eligible for the late voter registration. Tennant said the number of voters who would be eligible for this option is small, but they represent a very important segment of our population – men and women of the armed services and their families.
The Secretary of State’s Office, because of dedicated efforts to serve military voters and their families, also recently was awarded a $500,000 Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections (EASE) grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). This will allow military and overseas voters to participate in online ballot delivery, which will provide quicker access to their ballot and increases the percentage of ballots that are returned in time to be counted.
A UOCAVA voter can also utilize an absentee ballot tracking feature which allows them to monitor the progress of their ballot. A voter will be able to see when their ballot was received by their county clerk and also make sure that their ballot was counted.
The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office also plans to take part in the 2012 Heroes Vote Initiative, which is a one-stop online database that makes it easier for deployed military members and their families to find out voting information.