Pentagon defends voting assistance efforts

Soldiers filling out voter absentee ballots at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan. Soldiers filling out voter absentee ballots at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan. U.S. Army

A Pentagon official charged with assisting Americans serving abroad to vote told lawmakers her office is operating more effectively than ever, although a recent Defense Department inspector general report still pointed to program shortcomings.

Pamela Mitchell, acting director of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, told the House Armed Forces Committee’s Military Personnel’s Subcommittee on Thursday that Americans overseas lauded the progress her office has made.

“We provide voting assistance every day, and we’ve never done it better,” Mitchell said. “Voters seeking assistance will find myriad resources available, including a professional call center, well-trained voting assistance officers and an information-rich Web portal.”

Kenneth Moorefield, a Defense Department deputy inspector general who also testified Thursday to present the findings of his office’s report, painted a different picture.

Moorefield pointed to a failure to follow through on requirements spelled out in the 2009 Military and Voters Overseas Act -- known as the MOVE Act -- which called for voting assistance offices on every U.S. military base not in a war zone. He said half the time his office tried to contact those offices they were unable to find any proof the offices had been established.

“We believe the number of [voting assistance offices] necessary to comply with the spirit of the law may significantly exceed the number of [offices] actually in existence today,” he told the panel. Moorefield added some of the information on the website, which Mitchell had praised, was “inaccurate.”

Mitchell acknowledged the current system remains imperfect, but emphasized military members have access to previously unseen resources.

“I spent over 25 years in uniform, and I wish I’d had access to the tools that are out there today,” Mitchell said. “However, even if only one absentee service member or overseas citizen has a problem, we believe it is one too many, and there is no question that we still have work to do.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.