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Despite the predictions of botched ballots, broken machines and no paper trails, elections back in the States last week went off without a sizeable hitch. But how did absentee voting work out this time around for the Americans who weren’t at home to cast their vote?

The Overseas Vote Foundation, a non-partisan group dedicated to helping overseas voters navigate the complexities of the absentee ballot, wants to hear from military members stationed outside the States regarding what problems they may have encountered when casting their vote this year.

The 2006 post-election survey will give assistance groups and the government a better idea of how the absentee voting system is doing, said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, the foundation’s director.

“We would like to make sure that we don’t make any assumptions about where problems lie in the voting process,” she said.

Only five percent of the American citizens helped by the foundation during this election cycle were military, she said.

“We’re very interested in getting their specific military feedback,” Dzieduszycka-Suinat said. “Their experience is very valuable.”

Those who are interested in participating can log on to

Dzieduszycka-Suinat said she expects the results of the survey to be published on the foundation’s Web site in a few months.

The results will be forwarded to governmental agencies such as the Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Election Assistance Commission, she said.

For a variety of reasons, many requested overseas absentee ballots are not filled out and returned to their voting authority, according to other voter advocacy groups and the federal EAC.

According to a March EAC report on 2004 absentee ballots, discrepancies existed between the number of absentee ballots that were sent out and the number that were returned during that election.

While some local election officials didn’t respond to the survey, some states showed as many as 50 percent of the sent ballots not being filled out and mailed back.

Of about 122,000 absentee ballots that were sent out in Florida in 2004, nearly 29,000 were not returned, the report states.

The standard line of thought is that varying ballot request and submission deadlines, as well as the mobility of the American military community, lead to ballots not being received or submitted, Dzieduszycka-Suinat said.

Now is the time to figure out how the system worked in 2006, she said. “We want to get to voters before this election is a distant memory.”

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