April 10, 2014

Schumer Announces The SENTRI Act Has Passed The Senate Rules Committee

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES THE SENTRI ACT HAS PASSED THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE

Bipartisan legislation improves voting opportunities for service men and women including the creation of important safeguards for military and overseas voters
Schumer: It is our obligation to do everything in our power to make sure our troops have an opportunity to register and exercise their right to vote


WASHINGTON, DC-- U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, announced that S. 1728, the Safeguarding Elections for our Nation’s Troops through Reforms and Improvements Act or SENTRI Act, was been reported out of the Senate Rules Committee by voice vote on April 9, 2014. The Rules Committee held a hearing on the SENTRI Act January 29, 2014.
“The SENTRI Act moves one step closer to passage,” Schumer said. “These brave men and women put their lives on the line safeguarding our democracy. It is our obligation to do everything in our power to make sure our troops have the opportunity to register and exercise their right to vote.”   
Schumer and Cornyn introduced the SENTRI Act on November 19, 2013. The bill currently has bipartisan support from twelve other cosponsors including Senators Roy Blunt, Sherrod Brown, Thad Cochran, Ted Cruz, Angus King, Amy Klobuchar, Rob Portman, Mark Pryor, Marco Rubio, Mark Warner, John Walsh, and Roger Wicker.
The SENTRI Act has four key components. First, it improves voter registration and voting opportunities for service members through an online system and by requiring voter assistance as a routine part of service members’ annual training. Second, it ensures requests for absentee ballots remain valid for a full, two-year federal election cycle. Third, it strengthens protections of voting rights of military and overseas voters by requiring states to submit a pre-election report to the Department of Justice and DOD on the status of blank absentee ballot transmissions to military and overseas voters. Finally, the SENTRI Act requires a biennial report from the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) to coincide with the normal federal election cycle. The biennial report is subject to independent GAO review assessing the effectiveness of the DOD’s voting assistance programs.
In 1986 Congress enacted the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (“UOCAVA”). The act requires that States and Territories allow active duty members of the United States uniformed services to register and vote absentee in elections for Federal offices. In 2009 UOCAVA was strengthened when the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (“MOVE” Act) was passed. Among its provisions, the MOVE Act requires States to transmit ballots at least 45 days before federal elections and prohibits states from refusing to accept an otherwise valid voter registration or absentee ballot application due to notarization requirements.