While military personnel fight to protect U.S. citizens’ rights, a Pennsylvania senator is fighting to protect their fundamental right to vote.
The Senate State Government Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would allow military and overseas voters to return their absentee ballots electronically.
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Matt Smith (D - Allegheny County), said the number one goal is to make sure every serviceman and woman’s vote is counted.
“Right now they can receive their absentee ballot electronically, but they can’t return it electronically, so this would close that gap, giving military voters in particular who are overseas a much greater opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” Smith said.
Currently, overseas voters must print their ballot off the Internet, fill it out by hand and return it by mail.
Smith said he proposed the legislation after seeing how many overseas military ballots were not returned in the 2012 election.
“About 30 percent of military and overseas absentee ballots were not returned as compared to about 12 percent of non-absentee ballot returns for the domestic population, so that to me is something that cries out for a need to be fixed and we certainly want to make it as easy as possible for military personnel to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” Smith said.
The legislation would require the implementation of a secure electronic system by January 1, 2015 to be used for the 2015 primaries.
Smith said he is encouraged by the bipartisan support the bill has received.
The bill is now going to the full Senate for a vote.