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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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Big Picture

Survey: Elected women outperform men, but a woman is unlikely to beat Trump

People favor an increase in female candidates and some think they often do a better job in office than men — but they are less certain that a woman can defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

That is among several intriguing results of a survey released Thursday by All in Together, a nonpartisan political education nonprofit that urges women to participate in civic life and politics in particular.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted Aug. 2-9 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

More than half of respondents (58 percent) said that more female candidates has "been a good thing for the country." Also, 42 percent of women and 23 percent of men said that women in elected officials do a better job that men.

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C-SPAN

Christy McCormick, chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission, testififying on Capitol Hill in May.

Top U.S. election official opposes  automatic voter registration

The chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission told the nation's state legislators last week that she's opposed to automatic voter registration.

Adding qualified citizens to the rolls whenever they do business with a state agency, unless they choose to opt out, has quickly become a widely accepted component of most democracy reform agendas. Eighteen states will have so-called AVR in place in time for the 2020 election after a surge of acceptance in state legislatures this decade. And the practice would be nationally mandated under HR 1, the comprehensive campaign finance, election and ethics legislation the House passed in March.

But Christy McCormick argues that registering to vote is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment and that "not registering to vote is a choice – we should respect our citizens' choices."

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