Pamela Mitchell, acting director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, told the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee that troops and other citizens overseas “have more tools than ever available” to help them register and vote.
“We provide voting assistance every day and we’ve never done it better,” Mitchell assured the subcommittee. “Voters seeking assistance will find a myriad of resources , including a professional call center, well trained voting assistance officers and an information-rich Web portal at fvap.gov.”
Voting assistance came under fire several days ago when the Defense Department Inspector General released a report indicating that only half of the overseas voting assistance offices required by a 2009 federal law were open , staffed and operating. Critics have charged that the department is attempting to suppress the military vote since it tends to be conservative.
Mitchell assured committee members that voting assistance offices are open and that voters were being offered a host of tools to navigate the absentee voting process.
“We’re conducting a comprehensive communications and outreach campaign,” she said, according to a Pentagon news release covering her testimony. “We have established a call center that provides support by phone, email and on-line chat. The services are also actively engaged to increase awareness of the election and of service members’ right to vote.”
The FVAP website has logged more than 8 million visits since November, Mitchell reported, and the staff has issued 1.4 million emails five separate times since January.
“As of June 30, the services reported that their installation and unit voting assistance offices helped over 550,000 people,” Mitchell said.