Overseas ballots delivered by fax, e-mail

September 16, 2004
Press Release

Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office will send election materials and absentee ballots electronically to U.S. military personnel and Americans living overseas who wish to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election.

By enabling military voters and Americans living abroad to apply for and receive absentee ballots via e-mail or fax, the Clerk’s office is taking a major step to ensure that ballots are received in time for the upcoming election.

Electronic transmittal of these materials can cut at least one week off the time it would normally take to deliver a ballot using the U.S. Postal Service. The law requires that completed absentee ballots be received by Election Day to count. Voted ballots must be returned by mail.

“This expedites the process to help guarantee that overseas voters and military personnel stationed throughout the world will not only have the opportunity to vote, but have their votes counted,” said Orr, noting that his office is on pace to receive a record number of absentee ballot requests this election from military and overseas voters.

In the past, military personnel and overseas voters had to ask for an absentee ballot, wait for an application to arrive by mail, fill it out and mail it back. After the voter’s qualifications were verified, the Clerk’s office would mail the ballot to the voter who then filled it out and mailed it back before the election.

Orr noted a report following the 2000 presidential election by the General Accounting Office to congressional lawmakers concluded that completed overseas ballots often arrive too late and are disqualified.

Under the county’s program, qualified voters can now request an absentee ballot by e-mail or fax. The Clerk’s office will e-mail or fax a ballot application, a blank ballot, and all necessary paperwork that can then be completed and mailed back.

In addition to voting, military personnel and overseas Americans may also register to vote as part of the program. In these cases, the absentee ballot application will also serve as a registration application.

Orr’s program applies to military personnel stationed at home or abroad, and U.S. citizens who are temporarily or permanently residing abroad but whose last address was in suburban Cook County.

Those interested can contact the Clerk’s office to request an electronic or faxed ballot by e-mailing absenteeballot@cookcountygov.com, by faxing (312) 603-9784 or by calling (312) 603-0944. Chicago residents can request absentee ballots by e-mail or fax by contacting the Chicago Board of Elections at www.chicagoelections.com/(312) 269-7900.

To assist the city and county in the electronic voting program, the Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is including the details of the electronic ballot delivery process on its website, www.fvap.gov.

Orr urges the families of military personnel serving away from home and voters living abroad to alert them to the program and to provide the office’s e-mail address and fax number.