Pentagon Reverses Course on American Voters Living Abroad

July 3, 2012

By Brian Knowton, New York Times

WASHINGTON — Responding to the vocal concerns of American expatriates, the Pentagon agency responsible for overseas voting has agreed not to enforce a requirement for voters requesting absentee ballots to state categorically that they either intend to stay abroad indefinitely or not.

In a separate development, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said that it would make it easier for American citizens abroad who have not been filing tax returns — some from ignorance of new requirements — to meet their legal obligations if they owe little or no taxes.

Expatriate groups applauded both developments. They had been fighting the ballot requirement, saying its black-or-white language could put overseas Americans in an untenable position and might dissuade some from voting. The groups have also complained about tough — and they say sometimes unfair — new I.R.S. enforcement of tax laws for those living abroad.

Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, who heads the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation, called the Pentagon’s decision “a huge win for overseas citizens” and praised the agency for responding to voters’ concerns.

Read more at the New York Times

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