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If you’re an American overseas and want to register to vote, it looks like the Pentagon doesn’t want you to. They’re blocking access to the official Web site that will assist you in doing so. Read the bullshit excuses…

In a decision that could affect Americans abroad who are not yet registered to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election, the Pentagon has begun restricting international access to the official Web site intended to help overseas absentee voters cast ballots.

According to overseas-voter advocates who have been monitoring the situation, Internet service providers in at least 25 countries – including Yahoo Broadband in Japan, Wanadoo in France, BT Yahoo Broadband in Britain and Telefónica in Spain – have been denied access to the site of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, apparently to protect it from hackers.

In an e-mail addressed to a person in France who had tried to access the Web site, the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Web manager, Susan Leader, wrote: “We are sorry you cannot access www.fvap.gov. Unfortunately, Wanadoo France has had its access blocked to U.S. government Web sites due to Wanadoo users constantly attempting to hack these sites. We do not expect the block to be lifted.”

The Federal Voting Assistance Program, which was designed to help both military and civilian voters abroad, is under the authority of the Defense Department.

Asked whether any other government Web sites had been blocked, a Pentagon spokesman declined to comment.

…Although voter registration forms are available from other sources, being unable to download the forms from the site has frustrated expatriates in many countries. That frustration is growing with the approach of the Oct. 2 deadline for registration in most U.S. states..

Annalee Newitz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit San Francisco group for protecting people’s digital rights, said: “It’s extremely ironic that the government is doing nothing to address the security of electronic voting machines” in the United States, “which have been proven to be vulnerable to hacking, yet they block Web sites for expatriate Americans.”

Those who cannot access the voting assistance program site can go to a new site, www.overseasvote2004.com, which promises to help absentee voters complete registration “in five minutes.” It features state-specific registration forms that voters can print out and fax and mail back to their states.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding