Issues Affecting Military and Overseas Absentee Voters

GAO-01-704T: Published: May 9, 2001. Publicly Released: May 9, 2001.

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Derek B. Stewart
(202) 512-5559


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The extent and quality of federal voter assistance for military personnel and overseas citizens varied considerably during the November 2000 election. The Department of Defense (DOD) has developed some useful information tools, but many overseas military personnel were unaware of them. Moreover, the military services did not always comply with DOD requirements to appoint and train Voting Assistance Officers, brief military personnel on how to go about voting, or maintain enough supplies of voting materials. Lack of emphasis by commanders and limited oversight by service Inspectors General and installation commanders appear to be the chief reasons why some military installations did not fully comply with DOD guidance on how voting assistance programs should be carried out. Many states have worked with DOD's Federal Voting Assistance Program to make it easier for military personnel and overseas citizens to register, obtain ballots, and vote; however, voters continue to face challenges. Information on the precise number of military and overseas absentee votes that local jurisdictions disqualified nationwide in the November 2000 election and the reasons for the disqualification is not available. Many local officials said that they did not track data on these groups of absentee voters and could not readily provide the data.

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