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Diana Kerry Cites AOK NZ Success

Diana Kerry Cites AOK Success in New Zealand and Urges US Absentee Voters to Use Online Ballot Plus Fax to Cast Votes in Remaining Time

Diana Kerry, sister of the Democratic Presidential candidate and Chair of Americans Overseas for Kerry-Edwards (AOK), announced Friday that AOK is launching the final phase of its innovative “Get Out the Overseas Absentee Vote” campaign with a call for all eligible American citizens living abroad who have not yet done so to complete a Federal Write-in Ballot and return it immediately using fax or international express courier service.

AOK noted that through its efforts American citizens in more than 150 counties have logged on to the website it created in August, http://www.OverseasVote2004.com to help US citizens register to vote and request an absentee ballot for the US election this Tuesday, November Canada, UK and Germany-- with hundreds of thousands of Americans living within their borders-- ranked in the top positions as expected, yet New Zealand, with a relatively small population of US Expats (estimated at 14,500 bythe US State Department) was ranked 15th in US voter registrations.

Diana Kerry remarked: “New Zealand’s efforts at voter registration have impressed those of us in the campaign focused on the international Get Out the Vote Effort. With less than 15,000 American citizens and over 1,000 voters registered in just the past 8 weeks, AOK NZ Chair Ronald Nelson has managed to outperform dozens of countries with many more American citizens. We know that in this election every vote will count. The votes from New Zealand could make a real difference.”

Jim Brenner, Executive Director of AOK, noted, “The numbers are impressive. Based on the results of two web sites OverseasVote2004.com and OverseasVote.com, we estimate that at least 600,000 and perhaps as many as a million private American citizens will vote from abroad this year. This may represent as much as 20% of all civilian absentee ballot requests. Of all those registered, 40% will vote in so-called swing states. One only has to remember we lost Florida by 527 votes in the year 2000 to understand the significance of the Americans in New Zealand come Election Day.” Ronald Nelson of Wellington, volunteer NZ Chair of AOK is not worried that many Bush votes coming from Americans in New Zealand. “I sure I’ll be able to count their votes on my fingers and toes” He continued, “Besides, as accepting as Kiwis are, I would think Republicans would have a tough time getting along with their neighbors here. New Zealanders are repulsed by so many elements of the Republican Party. My mates always ask me about the religious right’s influence and the very way the Bush started the war in Iraq without the support of traditional allies. Besides, the polls here tell us if New Zealanders could vote, it would be a landslide for Kerry”

Diana Kerry also emphasized that it is not to late for those who have cast their absentee votes: “While many people who have not yet received a ballot think it is too late to vote, recent changes at the state and Federal level make it possible for Americans living almost anywhere in the world to get a ballot and return it right up to Election Eve, or even Election Day itself.” Kerry explained, “With interest in this election at unprecedented levels, U.S. citizens living abroad have come out in record numbers to register to vote. At least eight swing states have experienced delays sending their overseas absentee ballots and some overseas military and civilian voters expressed fear they would miss their chance to vote. Fortunately a number of important changes in voting procedure provide additional time and speedier alternatives.”

Brenner noted “these changes include the newly approved Online Write-in Absentee Ballot which is available on the Internet. Some states are also allowing voters to fax their ballots back using a special cover sheet, which is also available online.” Brenner explained that “states like Washington, Florida and Ohio have extended deadlines for ballot return, so that ballots postmarked by, or on, November 2nd will be counted as long as they are received within ten days. For example, both Illinois and Colorado usually require ballots to be returned by Election Day, but both have extended the deadline this year because they were very late in sending out absentees.”

Until one week ago if an overseas voter did not receive an absentee ballot, they would be required to travel to an Embassy or Consulate to get a Federal write-in ballot. However, to alleviate this problem, AOK and the Democratic Party made a special request to the Pentagon to make an online version of the form available for military and civilian oversees voters. Just last week the Pentagon agreed to the AOK request. Kerry applauded the Pentagon’s decision.

“We recognize this as a historical and revolutionary decision. By doing this, the Pentagon is effectively using the Internet to provide an immediate solution to getting timely ballot materials to both U.S. military and civilian citizens abroad. We hope to see the FVAP continue to develop as a means of distributing voting and balloting processes to voters around the globe,” said Diana Kerry.

For additional guidance, see http://www.aokerry.com/aok/2004/10/fvap_creates_ne.html#more or http://www.democratsabroad.org

Voters using the Online Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot should print out the ballot, read the instructions, sign and date it the ballot, and fax it to the FVAP +1 703 588-0108 and then follow the mailing instructions provided.

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