Both federal and state laws govern absentee voting by uniformed services and overseas United States citizens. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act are federal laws enacted to protect the rights of United States citizens to vote in federal elections while they are serving in the uniformed services or residing overseas. The Ohio General Assembly has incorporated those federal protections into the Ohio Revised Code and has extended them to state and local elections.
The citizens covered by UOCAVA fall into one of two specific groups:
- Uniformed services voters – members of the U.S. Armed Services, and their families (spouses and dependents), who, by reason of active duty service, are absent from the place where they are otherwise qualified to vote. Recognized branches of the U.S. Armed Services include the: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Additionally, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service are included as well; and, the National Oceanic, Atmospheric Administration and the merchant marine.
- U.S. citizens who reside outside the U.S. and are, or would be, qualified to vote in the last place in which they were domiciled before leaving the United States.
Unless otherwise noted, these provisions apply to all federal, and many state and local, elections.