Tester, Walsh fight for voting rights for overseas military members
Senators’ bill requires absentee ballots be sent out early enough to be counted
(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – With election season approaching in Montana, Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are fighting to strengthen the voting rights of service men and women stationed overseas.
Tester and Walsh are leading the fight to pass the bipartisan Safeguarding Elections for our Nation’s Troops through Reforms and Improvements (SENTRI) Act. The bill requires all absentee ballots for military members serving overseas to be sent out at least 45 days before an election.
States can currently get a waiver to send ballots overseas less than 45 days before an election, which can lead to ballots not being returned in time to be counted. As many as 25 percent of ballots cast by overseas service members went uncounted in the 2012 general election.
“America’s fighting men and women put their lives on the line to defend our democracy, and they must be able to participate in it and have their voices heard,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bill will make sure members of the military who are deployed overseas can cast a vote that will be counted and that we live up to our obligations to our fighting men and women.”
“Our men and women in uniform defend our rights and deserve to exercise their own – especially when it comes to voting in state and federal elections,” Walsh said. “Montana is setting an example for open ballot access and it’s our duty to ensure that our servicemembers may participate in the democratic process, especially during deployment in service to our country.”
The Senators’ bill also provides service members and their families with assistance when registering to vote.
Tester and Walsh’s SENTRI Act is co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats from across the ideological spectrum.