Take a Stand for Emailed Ballot Returns

The 2020 presidential elections are fast approaching, yet we know that due to the pandemic there are long delays in postal mail delivery and almost 80 countries who have suspended their international postal delivery service altogether (https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/international/welcome.htm). This is an urgent time to voice our concerns about voter access and stand up for our voting rights. To have safe, healthy, and fair elections this year, Americans abroad must have the ability to return their ballots securely via email attachment or web portal. 

If your voting state has a Democratic Governor but DOES NOT allow ballot returns via email attachment or web portal, call or email your governor’s office to express your concerns and let them know how your ability to vote is impacted. Then let us know their response by adding that information here

Democratic led states that currently do not allow email, fax or web portal ballot returns (contact information for your state here*): CT, IL, KY, MI, MN, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WI
If you prefer to email rather than call, look up your governor's website here, then go to their contact form. Use your voting address in the US to identify your voting location prior to sending in your comments. 
**********

Script for Phone calls

Hi, my name is ____, and I’m a constituent of Governor [Name], residing in [name of country]. 

I’m calling Governor ____ to express my concerns about the fact that [state] does not offer ballot returns via email attachment or web portal for Americans voting from overseas. There are currently 26 states that do offer email or web portal ballot returns and 5 that offer fax returns. Unfortunately [name of state] is not one of these. 

This is important to me personally because _______. [Explain known travel times for mail, embassy guidelines that indicate delays, costs of courier from your country, etc]

Currently almost 80 countries around the world do not have postal service to the US and the majority of other countries are delivering postal mail to the US via boat, severely delaying delivery. In the UK, the embassy has notified its voters that they could use the diplomatic pouch for ballot delivery but are not advising it, as they are expecting delivery to take 8 to 10 weeks - well beyond the time for a ballot (released at the earliest on Sept 19th) to reach our state in time. Courier service is our only, very expensive, option at the moment, applying an incredible poll tax on voters from abroad. 

If Governor [Name], allowed ballot returns via email attachment or web portal for citizens overseas, they would resolve the problem immediately, allowing voters abroad to successfully vote this year. 

Will you make sure that the voices of American citizens living abroad are heard in the upcoming election by working to implement email or web portal ballot return in the state of ____ ?

Many thanks for all that you do.


Script for Answering Machine Message

Hi, my name is ____, and I’m a constituent of Governor [Name], residing in [name of country]. 

I’m calling Governor ____ to express my concerns about the fact that [state] does not offer ballot returns via email attachment or web portal for Americans voting from overseas. 

This is important to me personally because _______. [Explain problems/delays you’ve experienced, or describe why mailing your ballot from abroad is difficult]

Currently almost 80 countries have no postal service to the US and the majority of others are delivering mail to the US via boat, causing severe delays. Delivery via Embassy diplomatic pouch is also very delayed (UK guidelines are 8-10 weeks), meaning ballots may not arrive on time. Courier service is our only, very expensive, option at the moment, applying an incredible poll tax on voters from abroad. 26 states have successfully developed safe and secure protocols for accepting ballots through email or web portal ballot returns for Citizens abroad, but the state of ____ hasn’t.

Will you make sure that the voices of American citizens living abroad are heard in the upcoming election by working to implement email or web portal ballot return in the state of ____ ?

Many thanks for all that you do.

Script for Emails

Hi,
My name is ____, and I’m a constituent of Governor [Name], residing in [name of country]. 

I’m emailing Governor ____ to express my concerns about the fact that [state] does not offer ballot returns via email attachment or web portal for Americans voting from overseas. There are currently 26 states that do offer email or web portal ballot returns and 5 that offer fax returns. Unfortunately [name of state] is not one of these. 

This is important to me personally because _______. [Explain known travel times for mail, embassy guidelines that indicate delays, costs of courier from your country, etc]

Currently almost 80 countries around the world do not have postal service to the US and the majority of other countries are delivering postal mail to the US via boat, severely delaying delivery. In the UK, the embassy has notified its voters that they could use the diplomatic pouch for ballot delivery but are not advising it, as they are expecting delivery to take 8 to 10 weeks - well beyond the time for a ballot (released at the earliest on Sept 19th) to reach our state in time. Courier service is our only, very expensive, option at the moment, applying an incredible poll tax on voters from abroad. 

If Governor [Name], allowed ballot returns via email attachment or web portal for citizens overseas, they would resolve the problem immediately, allowing voters abroad to successfully vote this year. 

Will you make sure that the voices of American citizens living abroad are heard in the upcoming election by working to implement email or web portal ballot return in the state of ____ ?

Many thanks for all that you do.

Kind regards,

[Name]

Talking points that help customize your script.

  • Email and web portal ballot return provides a paper trail as voters return their marked ballot and there’s no risk that the ballot will be delayed or lost in the international postal mail system. 26 states successfully use email or web portal ballot returns for Citizens abroad but the state of ____, doesn’t. 
  • Requiring postal ballot returns puts my health at risk since it makes it impossible for me to keep to the social distancing and stay at home measures by requiring travelling to and standing in lines at post offices and US embassies. 
  • There are over 6 million eligible US voters living (and potentially voting) from abroad and our votes are proven to make the margin of difference time and again.

More information

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) promoted accessibility, including expansion of electronic systems as a means of improving Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballot return rates. The majority of states allow for ballot returns options via email attachment, fax or web portal, 20 require ballot returns by postal mail.
Summary of HAVA plus link to complete bill (from the Election Assistance Commission).