US Senators Demand Answers from US Embassies On Voter Assistance

Sept 2, Washington DC: Senior US senators sent letters today to nearly two dozen US embassies world-wide, addressing concerns over US citizen voter support and querying the embassies on their voter assistance plans for this fall, especially in light of postal delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The three senators who signed the letterSenate Rules Committee ranking member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, had been part of a group of senators that had previously messaged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for the State department's plans regarding voter support. 

While Pompeo did not provide an answer to their original letter, ambassadors and embassy staff are required to answer questions addressed to them by Congress. 

Ambassador Bruce Heyman, who served as US Ambassador to Canada under Obama, noted, "As a former ambassador I am appalled by the diminished services that some US embassies are providing to US citizens. At a time when postal delivery between the US and the world has slowed down if not stopped, the State department and each and every embassy should be stepping up its support and guaranteeing that Americans abroad are able to effectively return their ballots to the US in time to be counted in the general election this year."  

Democrats Abroad Global Chair, Julia Bryan, added, "Democrats Abroad very much appreciates the outreach these senators are doing on behalf of voters abroad. With the massive mail slow downs we are seeing with mail delivery to the US, all voters need this support. We stand ready to help spread the word about updates in embassy procedures, and in the meantime, continue our work helping to register voters through our voter tool votefromabroad.org, and protect their votes through our voter protection work." 

 

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Questions addressed to the embassies were: 

1. What steps has your embassy taken to help Americans living in {country} to vote this year?

2. What are the current and anticipated delivery times for mail arriving to the U.S. from {country}?

3. Has USPS staff provided any guidance, formally or informally, in writing or verbally, regarding the delivery of mail during the pandemic? Please provide copies of any such
guidance.

4. Americans overseas use a variety of means, including diplomatic pouches, to send federal election mail back to the United States. Will your Embassy provide diplomatic pouch
services to Americans returning election mail? If necessary, what additional steps are you taking to provide alternatives and ensure the return of ballots is prioritized? Please
include information regarding whether the Embassy plans to provide courier services for election mail, including whether Americans in {country} will be able to track their ballots.

5. Are consular services at your embassy currently limited? If additional consular officers are needed to ensure the ballots of overseas voters can be safely and securely returned, is there a plan to shift resources to this vital American Citizen Service?

6. A review of embassy websites indicates that procedures for returning the ballots of overseas voters varies widely. Some embassies require person-to-person contact to
deliver a ballot while others do not. What procedures are currently in place for receiving and returning ballots during the pandemic at your embassy?

7. Have you taken steps to establish voter education or information campaigns to advise Americans living in X on how to securely and safely cast their ballots during the
pandemic in sufficient time to be counted?

 

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About Democrats Abroad

Democrats Abroad represents the interests and values of Democratic Americans living abroad. Recognized as a state party by the DNC, Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party arm for the millions of Americans living outside the United States, striving to provide Americans abroad a Democratic voice in our government and to mobilize the overseas vote. Democrats Abroad includes 45 active country committees, and our members live in more than 190 countries around the globe, voting in every state and Congressional district in the U.S. For more information: https://www.democratsabroad.org/