"Several federal laws laid the foundation for guaranteeing our military personnel's right to vote," Martin said. "We are taking additional steps by proactively reaching out to military installations and personnel here in Arkansas, to make everyone aware of the changes to the election calendar for military voters," says Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin.
A law passed in the 2011 legislative session requires that county clerks begin mailing requested absentee ballots to overseas and military voters 45 days before an election, rather than 30 days before the election. This allows more time for citizens living outside the United States to vote.
"The upcoming statewide special election on November 8 is the first election during which the new election-law calendar will apply," Martin said. "This new state law provides additional safeguards for military voters, above and beyond the requirements of the federal laws pertaining to military and out-of-country voters."
Secretary of State staff are contacting National Guard and Reserve voter services officers, the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs and other entities to establish relationships and alert them to upcoming elections.
"We are also reaching out to the Arkansas congressional delegation to work with their military liaisons," Martin said. "We want to ensure all our service men and women know how to get and cast a ballot for the special election in November and for next year's primary and general elections. Since this is a new law, military voters may not be aware of the changes."
Martin, a former United States Navy submariner, said his background makes military voting especially important to him. "As a Navy veteran, I'm committed to honoring the men and women in uniform for their courage and service by ensuring their right and ability to vote," he said.
The effort has been well received, Martin said. "Everyone my staff has spoken to has been happy to have a local source of information, and they appreciate that we're being proactive in reaching out to them."
Staff have given voter service officers information on upcoming elections and related dates, such as the deadlines to register or request an absentee ballot for the November special election. They're also pointing military personnel to the Secretary of State's election website (click here), and voter registration information portal (click here).
"I appreciate what our men and women in uniform do to protect us, and I'm dedicated to providing those service people from Arkansas every assistance in exercising the rights they protect," Martin said. "This special election gives us the opportunity to open the door to higher participation - and more meaningful outreach - to our military voters in advance of the Presidential Election next year."