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Minnesota U.S. senator introduces military families’ voting bill

(The Center Square) – Minnesota’s U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced Monday that she has introduced a bill to require the federal government to assess how military families can access voter registration information.

The bipartisan Supporting Military Voters Act would require the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to examine and identify what improvements are necessary for servicemembers and their families to have this information, according to a news release from Klobuchar’s office. There would also be a study of the Department of Defense’s compliance with existing federal laws to provide servicemembers timely access to absentee ballots.

A Federal Voting Assistance Program survey conducted from November 4, 2020, to January 15, 2021, found that more than 20% of service members who wanted to vote during the 2020 election couldn’t complete the process, the release said. Reasons included difficulty registering or requesting an absentee ballot.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-NE, is partnering with Klobuchar on the bill. U.S. Reps. Laurel Lee, R-FL, and Joe Neguse, D-CO, are leading the bill in the House of Representatives.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, but access to absentee ballots and registering to vote are obstacles for too many of our brave servicemembers and their families,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation would help us examine and better understand the barriers so that we can make sure members of our military – who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and defend our nation – are able to access the ballot box and make their voices heard.” 

Klobuchar and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, introduced a bill in June to direct the Small Business Administration to develop a training program to help military spouses start, develop and operate small businesses, the release said.

A 2022 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation February and March 2022 survey of about 4,000 civilian military spouses found that 32% of spouses of active-duty members were unemployed despite actively seeking work in the previous four weeks. The report’s recommendations included focusing on workplace flexibility, like remote work opportunities, for military spouses and continuing to examine public-private partnerships to create career paths for military spouses, with a special focus on training, internships and entrepreneurial opportunities that offer competitive wages.

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