If any of you expats have been having trouble getting to the official Federal Voter Assistance Program website (you know, the one that helps you get your absentee ballots), blame the Pentagon:
PARIS — Americans abroad, whose votes could be crucial if the Nov. 2 presidential election proves close, are being denied access to a U.S. Department of Defense Web site designed to make it easier for them to cast absentee ballots.I wonder if this could be due to any perceived Democratic bias in the expat voting population this year? No, that would be too far into tinfoil hat territory.
The problem concerns blocks placed on access to the Web site of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, a Defense Department division to help expatriate American voters, including servicemen and women. The site's address is www.fvap.gov.
Brett Rierson, a Hong Kong-based Democrat who wrote to Leader about the problem, provided The Associated Press with a copy of her e-mail. Rierson says he has tracked complaints from users of at least 27 ISPs in 25 countries who have been denied access to information from the Pentagon-run site.
He fears that U.S. citizens may be unable to vote if they can't download absentee ballot forms from www.fvap.gov or another site, www.overseasvote.com, which he co-founded, or collect the forms in person from an American embassy or consulate.
"It has the potential to disenfranchise anyone who does not live next to a U.S. Embassy," Rierson said in a telephone interview. But he also noted that the Democratic Party has set up the site www.overseasvote2004.com, where even people using blocked ISPs can still register.
The sister of Democratic hopeful Sen. John Kerry said she was "outraged" and accused the Pentagon of "gross bureaucratic negligence and indifference to the rights of American voters."
"That the Pentagon ... has chosen to surrender to unspecified 'hackers' without firing a single shot in defense of American democracy is suspect," Diana Kerry said in a statement.