Secretary of State Tours Middle East for First-Hand View of Military, Overseas Voting Issues

CARSON CITY – Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller   is traveling in the Middle East with U.S. Department of Defense officials this week to gain first-hand knowledge of military and overseas voting issues.

“These are the women and men who are fighting to ensure that the interests of the United States and democracy are protected around the world,” Miller said. “We owe them every possible effort to make the elections process accessible and secure for their participation. Secretaries of State have a responsibility to take a lead role in this effort, and I’m honored to be a part of that, and particularly honored to get to meet some of our troops in the field.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller, center, is on a trip to the Middle East this week.

Miller and fellow Secretaries of State first stopped in Kuwait to meet with U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller and U.S. Embassy staff, where they held extensive meetings to discuss voter outreach efforts for U.S. citizens living abroad and collaboration to resolve barriers to voting.

Military leadership briefed the secretaries on the U.S. Army Central voting assistance program in the Third Army war room. The program is in place to ensure successful absentee voting during the election year. The secretaries also met with assigned officers at military installations to resolve any outstanding issues. The stop included a tour and an extensive presentation at the U.S. Army Post Office to learn how military ballots are processed and transported.

Following Kuwait, the Secretaries of State toured Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, where they received a briefing regarding the Combined Air Operations Center voting assistance program, met with the Qatar Embassy regarding voter outreach, lunched with constituents, and toured the military postal facilities. The Secretaries of State will travel to several other yet undisclosed locations in the Middle East.

As Nevada’s chief elections officer and president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Miller is strong advocate of changes to the state’s military and overseas voting laws to ensure all ballots are received on time and counted in elections. Miller worked with the Nevada Department of Veteran Services and local elections officials during the 2009 legislative session to pass Assembly Bill 41, which allows Nevada voters overseas to register to vote; request and submit absentee ballots electronically; and accepted language from the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

The passage of the MOVE Act in 2009 placed greater protections for services members and other overseas citizens by requiring elections officials to send absentee ballots to voters who request them at least 45 days before the election.

In July, the Military Voter Protection (MVP) Project named Nevada one of 15 All-Star states for taking significant efforts to promote and protect the voting rights of America’s military service members and their families.

Miller is joined by Secretaries of State from Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Michigan on the trip. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program is sponsoring the trip.