FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 2010
Secretary Rokita says Indiana has gone above and beyond ensuring Indiana’s military and overseas voters have more opportunities to get their absentee ballots back in time for the Nov 2. election; office writes letters expressing concern with three counties that experienced delays
INDIANAPOLIS – Less than a year after the passage of the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita applauded the work of dedicated state and local election administrators who acted to ensure military and overseas civilian voters receive the full benefits guaranteed by the legislation.
“Unlike other states, Indiana did not ask for waivers or extensions of time to do what is right for our armed forces members or civilians overseas,” Secretary Rokita said. “Indiana acted swiftly to make the changes required by the MOVE Act, and made the process as easy as possible for those who strive to defend it.”
Indiana did not wait for a federal law to be passed to begin using new technologies to make voting easier for military and overseas voters. In 2006, the Indiana General Assembly passed a state law to permit ballots from military voters to be sent and received electronically through a program administered by the U.S. Department of Defense. Earlier this year, the legislature passed – with bipartisan support – a bill to not only implement the basic requirements of the federal MOVE Act, but to take additional voluntary steps on behalf of these voters. In House Enrolled Act 1109, military and overseas voters were guaranteed the opportunity to check to see whether their absentee ballot had been received by their county election board. However, as implemented in Indiana, these voters can track their absentee ballot every step of the way on www.indianavoters.com from when it was sent out to the voter by the county to when the ballot is received on Election Day.
The overwhelming majority of county election officials worked hard to send hundreds of these ballots to military and overseas voters not later than Sept. 18, which was 45 days before Election Day – the deadline set by the MOVE Act. Unfortunately, three Indiana counties did not comply with the deadline. Secretary Rokita’s office wrote to each county’s clerk this week to express concern. These included two counties, Fountain and Huntington County, who transmitted ballots within one week of the deadline – the delays due to illness or staffing issues.
The final county to come into compliance with the MOVE Act was St. Joseph County, which, despite continuous urging of the Indiana Election Division, did not complete the transmission of all ballots until Sept. 28th.
“I fully appreciate that there are several complicated steps involved in the ballot printing and absentee ballot distribution process,” said Secretary Rokita. “But the delay experienced by military and overseas voters from St. Joseph County was unacceptable. There will be plenty of questions asked to better understand what has happened in St. Joseph County and how to prevent anything like it from occurring in the future.”
Signed into law by President Obama on Oct. 28, 2009, the MOVE Act requires states to make voter registration and absentee ballot application available online. The MOVE Act also requires absentee ballots be transmitted to military and overseas voters by the method authorized by state law and requested by the voter. Under Indiana’s law to implement the MOVE Act, military and overseas voters can request that absentee ballots be sent by e-mail, fax or U.S. mail.
Media contact: Jim Gavin, jgavin@sos.IN.gov, 317-233-8655