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U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Voting Section


TITLE 42 - THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
CHAPTER 20 - ELECTIVE FRANCHISE

SUBCHAPTER I-G - REGISTRATION AND VOTING BY ABSENT UNIFORMED SERVICES VOTERS AND OVERSEAS VOTERS IN ELECTIONS FOR FEDERAL OFFICE

PRIOR PROVISIONS

Provisions similar to this subchapter were contained in subchapters I-D and I-E (1973cc et seq. and 1973dd et seq.) of this chapter prior to repeal by Pub. L. 99-410.

SUBCHAPTER REFERRED TO IN OTHER SECTIONS

This subchapter is referred to in section 1973gg-4 of this title; title 18 section 608; title 39 section 3406.

Sec. 1973ff Federal responsibilities

(a) Presidential designee

The President shall designate the head of an executive department to have primary responsibility for Federal functions under this subchapter.

(b) Duties of Presidential designee

The Presidential designee shall -

(1) consult State and local election officials in carrying out this subchapter;

(2) prescribe an official post card form, containing both an absentee voter registration application and an absentee ballot application, for use by the States as recommended in section 1973ff-3 of this title;

(3) carry out section 1973ff-2 of this title with respect to the Federal write-in absentee ballot for overseas voters in general elections for Federal office;

(4) prescribe a suggested design for absentee ballot mailing envelopes for use by the States as recommended in section 1973ff-3 of this title;

(5) compile and distribute (A) descriptive material on State absentee registration and voting procedures, and (B) to the extent practicable, facts relating to specific elections, including dates, offices involved, and the text of ballot questions; and

(6) not later than the end of each year after a Presidential election year, transmit to the President and the Congress a report on the effectiveness of assistance under this subchapter, including a statistical analysis of voter participation and a description of State-Federal cooperation.

(c) Duties of other Federal officials

(1) In general

The head of each Government department, agency, or other entity shall, upon request of the Presidential designee, distribute balloting materials and otherwise cooperate in carrying out this subchapter.

(2) Administrator of General Services

As directed by the Presidential designee, the Administrator of General Services shall furnish official post card forms (prescribed under subsection (b) of this section) and Federal write-in absentee ballots (prescribed under section 1973ff-2 of this title).

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 101, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 924.)

EFFECTIVE DATE

Section 204 of Pub. L. 99-410 provided that: "The amendments and repeals made by this Act (see Short Title note below) shall apply with respect to elections taking place after December 31, 1987."

SHORT TITLE

Section 1 of Pub. L. 99-410 provided that: "This Act (enacting this subchapter, sections 608 and 609 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, and section 3406 of Title 39, Postal Service, amending sections 2401, 3627, and 3684 of Title 39, repealing subchapters I-D and I-E of this chapter, and enacting provisions set out as a note under this section) may be cited as the 'Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act'."

EX. ORD. NO. 12642. DESIGNATION OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AS PRESIDENTIAL DESIGNEE

Ex. Ord. No. 12642, June 8, 1988, 53 F.R. 21975, provided: By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including section 101(a) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (Public Law 99-410) ("the Act") (42 U.S.C. 1973ff(a)), it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. The Secretary of Defense is hereby designated as the "Presidential designee" under Title I of the Act (42 U.S.C. 1973ff et seq.). Sec. 2. In order to effectuate the purposes of the Act (see Short Title note above), the Secretary of Defense is hereby authorized to delegate any or all of the functions, responsibilities, powers, authority, or discretion devolving upon him in consequence of this Order to any person or persons within the Department of Defense. Ronald Reagan.

SECTION REFERRED TO IN OTHER SECTIONS

This section is referred to in sections 1973ff-3, 1973ff-6 of this title.

Sec. 1973ff-1 State responsibilities

Each State shall -

(1) permit absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters to use absentee registration procedures and to vote by absentee ballot in general, special, primary, and runoff elections for Federal office;

(2) accept and process, with respect to any general, special, primary, or runoff election for Federal office, any otherwise valid voter registration application from an absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter, if the application is received by the appropriate State election official not less than 30 days before the election; and

(3) permit overseas voters to use Federal write-in absentee ballots (in accordance with section 1973ff-2 of this title) in general elections for Federal office.

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 102, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 925.)

Sec. 1973ff-2 Federal write-in absentee ballot for overseas voters in general elections for Federal office

(a) In general

The Presidential designee shall prescribe a Federal write-in absentee ballot (including a secrecy envelope and mailing envelope for such ballot) for use in general elections for Federal office by overseas voters who make timely application for, and do not receive, States, absentee ballots.

(b) Submission and processing

Except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, a Federal write-in absentee ballot shall be submitted and processed in the manner provided by law for absentee ballots in the State involved. A Federal write-in absentee ballot of an overseas voter shall not be counted -

(1) if the ballot is submitted from any location in the United States;

(2) if the application of the overseas voter for a State absentee ballot is received by the appropriate State election official less than 30 days before the general election; or

(3) if a State absentee ballot of the overseas voter is received by the appropriate State election official not later than the deadline for receipt of the State absentee ballot under State law.

(c) Special rules

The following rules shall apply with respect to Federal write-in absentee ballots:

(1) In completing the ballot, the overseas voter may designate a candidate by writing in the name of the candidate or by writing in the name of a political party (in which case the ballot shall be counted for the candidate of that political party).

(2) In the case of the offices of President and Vice President, a vote for a named candidate or a vote by writing in the name of a political party shall be counted as a vote for the electors supporting the candidate involved.

(3) Any abbreviation, misspelling, or other minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate or a political party shall be disregarded in determining the validity of the ballot, if the intention of the voter can be ascertained.

(d) Second ballot submission; instruction to overseas voter

An overseas voter who submits a Federal write-in absentee ballot and later receives a State absentee ballot, may submit the State absentee ballot. The Presidential designee shall assure that the instructions for each Federal write-in absentee ballot clearly state that an overseas voter who submits a Federal write-in absentee ballot and later receives and submits a State absentee ballot should make every reasonable effort to inform the appropriate State election official that the voter has submitted more than one ballot.

(e) Use of approved State absentee ballot in place of Federal write-in absentee ballot

The Federal write-in absentee ballot shall not be valid for use in a general election if the State involved provides a State absentee ballot that -

(1) at the request of the State, is approved by the Presidential designee for use in place of the Federal write-in absentee ballot; and

(2) is made available to overseas voters at least 60 days before the deadline for receipt of the State ballot under State law.

(f) Certain States exempted

A State is not required to permit use of the Federal write-in absentee ballot, if, on and after August 28, 1986, the State has in effect a law providing that -

(1) a State absentee ballot is required to be available to any voter described in section 1973ff-6(5)(A) of this title at least 90 days before the general election involved; and

(2) a State absentee ballot is required to be available to any voter described in section 1973ff-6(5)(B) or (C) of this title, as soon as the official list of candidates in the general election is complete.

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 103, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 925.)

SECTION REFERRED TO IN OTHER SECTIONS

This section is referred to in sections 1973ff, 1973ff-1, 1973ff-6 of this title.

Sec. 1973ff-3 Recommendations to States to maximize access to polls by absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters

To afford maximum access to the polls by absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters, it is recommended that the States -

(1) use the official post card form (prescribed under section 1973ff of this title) for simultaneous voter registration application and absentee ballot application;

(2) adopt the suggested design for absentee ballot mailing envelopes prescribed under section 1973ff of this title;

(3) waive registration requirements for absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters who, by reason of service or residence, do not have an opportunity to register;

(4) if an application other than an official post card form (prescribed under section 1973ff of this title) is required for absentee registration, provide that registration forms be sent with the absentee ballot and may be returned with it;

(5) expedite processing of balloting materials with respect to absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters;

(6) permit any oath required for a document under this subchapter to be administered by a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces or any official authorized to administer oaths under Federal law or the law of the State or other place where the oath is administered;

(7) assure that absentee ballots are mailed to absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters at the earliest opportunity;

(8) assist the Presidential designee in compiling statistical and other information relating to this subchapter; and

(9) provide late registration procedures for persons recently separated from the Armed Forces.

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 104, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 926.)

SECTION REFERRED TO IN OTHER SECTIONS

This section is referred to in section 1973ff of this title.

Sec. 1973ff-4 Enforcement

The Attorney General may bring a civil action in an appropriate district court for such declaratory or injunctive relief as may be necessary to carry out this subchapter.

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 105, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 927.)

Sec. 1973ff-5 Effect on certain other laws

The exercise of any right under this subchapter shall not affect, for purposes of any Federal, State, or local tax, the residence or domicile of a person exercising such right.

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 106, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 927.)

Sec. 1973ff-6 Definitions

As used in this subchapter, the term -

(1) "absent uniformed services voter" means -

(A) a member of a uniformed service on active duty who, by reason of such active duty, is absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote;

(B) a member of the merchant marine who, by reason of service in the merchant marine, is absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote; and

(C) a spouse or dependent of a member referred to in subparagraph (A) or (B) who, by reason of the active duty or service of the member, is absent from the place of residence where the spouse or dependent is otherwise qualified to vote;

(2) "balloting materials" means official post card forms (prescribed under section 1973ff of this title), Federal write-in absentee ballots (prescribed under section 1973ff-2 of this title), and any State balloting materials that, as determined by the Presidential designee, are essential to the carrying out of this subchapter;

(3) "Federal office" means the office of President or Vice President, or of Senator or Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;

(4) "member of the merchant marine" means an individual (other than a member of a uniformed service or an individual employed, enrolled, or maintained on the Great Lakes or the inland waterways) -

(A) employed as an officer or crew member of a vessel documented under the laws of the United States, or a vessel owned by the United States, or a vessel of foreign-flag registry under charter to or control of the United States; or

(B) enrolled with the United States for employment or training for employment, or maintained by the United States for emergency relief service, as an officer or crew member of any such vessel;

(5) "overseas voter" means -

(A) an absent uniformed services voter who, by reason of active duty or service is absent from the United States on the date of the election involved;

(B) a person who resides outside the United States and is qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States; or

(C) a person who resides outside the United States and (but for such residence) would be qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States.

(6) "State" means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa;

(7) "uniformed services" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and

(8) "United States", where used in the territorial sense, means the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

(Pub. L. 99-410, title I, Sec. 107, Aug. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 927.)

SECTION REFERRED TO IN OTHER SECTIONS

This section is referred to in section 1973ff-2 of this title; title 39 section 3406.

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