Given the current conflicts in the Middle East, continued extensive deployment of American military personnel overseas is certain. When these young men and women want to have their voices heard in Washington, inconsistent absentee voting policies and flawed outreach will make the distance between the battlefield and the ballot box seem all the more insurmountable. Other overseas voters face similar dilemmas. "Will my vote get counted?" is a question no American should have to ask no matter where they are in the world come primary season.
Absentee voting as a whole has been on the rise for sometime in America and military absentee voting is currently unprecedented. For example, in just the last four years the state of California, which ranks number one nationwide in overseas military deployments, has seen absentee voting requests quadruple. Unfortunately, efforts to improve voting systems to better protect the rights of our fellow Americans abroad have not increased in tandem. Often times ballot return windows of a mere two weeks leave military personel and other overseas voters with no voice in runoff elections.We advocate the adoption of instant runoff voting for overseas absentee ballots.
Overseas voters receive two ballots - a standard ballot for
the first election and a ranked choice ballot for the second election.
The ranked ballot contains all the candidates from the first election,
and voters rank them in order of preference, from first to last. Both
ballots are returned before the first election, and the standard ballot
is counted as usual. In the event of a runoff election or a general
election, the ranked ballot is counted towards the highest ranked
candidate who advances to the second round.
Using ranked choice ballots saves a great deal of money because the addional cost of printing runoff ballots and affixing them with the necessary postage is eliminated. The typically low return rate of runoff ballots is also avoided. It is difficult in many parts of the world to quickly learn of primary election results.