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Dear Decaturish – Improve voting process for overseas citizens

campaign coverage Decatur Editor's Pick

Dear Decaturish – Improve voting process for overseas citizens

A sign directs voters to the Oakhurst Baptist Church polling location in Decatur on Jan. 5, 2021. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Dear Decaturish,

There is an effort in the Georgia legislature to change the voting laws, and I hope the legislators will take action to make it easier for overseas citizens to vote.

My daughter, Michelle Easley, is a U.S. citizen, a Decatur High and UGA graduate, who is registered to vote in DeKalb County and she lives in Bogota, Colombia. She teaches English.

Georgia’s law allows DeKalb County Voter Registrations and Elections to email her a ballot, but the law requires that it be returned on paper. She is not allowed to sign the ballot and email it back. Mail service between here and Colombia is unreliable; the only time I ever tried to mail something to her, it was stolen. I understand Alabama is one state that allows its overseas citizens to email their ballots back. How can we be more backward than ALABAMA?

I understand and support the desire to ensure that voting is secure. But this ballot requirement is very difficult to manage. I am sure it also poses obstacles to our military personnel who live overseas.

My daughter was able to vote in November by printing off the ballot the VERY FIRST week absentee ballots were issued and getting it to the U.S. Embassy to put in a diplomatic pouch. Even then, it took about a month for the ballot to be received. She gave her ballot for the Jan. 5 election to the U.S. Embassy on Dec. 10. It did not get to the DeKalb County Registrar until Jan. 21, and therefore it was not counted. To use FedEx or UPS to send the ballot from Bogota to Decatur, Ga., would have cost $25-50, and I hope you agree that a U.S. citizen should not have to pay that much money to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

I would like the law to change to allow overseas citizens to send back ballots via email, with some sort of secure ID. If I can transfer money overseas, surely balloting can be made secure?

Georgia citizens who live overseas should not be disenfranchised.

Sincerely,

Diane Loupe

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