Tyler, Texas (KETK) — Men and women serving overseas may soon have an easier way to make their voices heard at the ballot box here at home. An email ballot federal voter assistance program is in the works that could affect 50 counties in Texas. The grant will help streamline the email ballot process for overseas military voters. “It's going to help over 15 thousand military and overseas voters in Texas be able to have their email ballot accessed in a better way." Smith County elections administrator, Karen Nelson says.
Right now, many military members who choose to vote must vote by casting an absentee ballot through the U.S. mail. But service members tell us that process can be a hassle.
Nelson says this program will not only help it military voters overseas --- but it will also allow solders to keep tabs on their ballots from their computer."There's also tracking, where the person can track when their email was sent, when we sent it back, when their ballot was mailed, when their ballot was received so there's a lot of benefits for the voter, they can see the process of their ballot along the way."
In a phone interview with active duty Army Armor officer, Captain Mitchell Payne, stationed in Fort Hood Texas, he says he keeps a close eye on what's going at home in Texas when he's deployed, “I think keeping an eye on local politics is almost more important than the bigger national stuff because it's at the local level that you really feel the first bites of political push."
Payne says he finds the current voting process a hassle, and believes an easy email system for overseas and active military voters will help encourage *more* service men and woman to make their voices heard from afar. He says, "It makes it more convenient to vote and so I think you'll get more of a voter turnout."
Counties in Texas that plan to implement the program say it will be a lot easier for military voters—and for people at the elections office.
Currently all 50 counties are waiting for grant approval to rollout the new voting process.