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Group finalizes uniform model for overseas voting

Late last week the Uniform Law Commission announced passage of its Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act, designed to act as a model for states to update their election policies to make them more user-friendly with overseas voters (including military deployed in foreign countries). 

The document is simply a recommendation for state officials -- individual state legislatures would still have to approve the ideas before any changes will occur -- but voting rights groups praised the move as a common-sense step. In a statement, the Pew Center on the States said the model will "make it easier for those who defend and represent our nation’s democratic ideals around the world to participate in our democracy here at home."

The ULC recommends ditching cumbersome requirements like rules mandating notarizing or witness signatures for completed ballots (eight states still do that); allowing the electronic transmission of registration and ballot forms (only 16 states currently allow ballots to be sent via email); and requiring all states mail absentee ballots at least 45 days before an election (25 states and the District of Columbia didn't do that in 2008).

The group also called for expanded acceptance of the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot for all elections, which allows voters to cast a generic ballot if their state-specific one doesn't arrive in time.

Implementing many of the changes by this November's election will be impossible, officials conceded. They're looking for a major state lobbying effort in 2011, in hopes of getting a uniform set of rules across the country before the 2012 presidential election.

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