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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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(Jeff Swensen, Getty Images)

Across generations, young people vote at lower rates because we're more transient, writes Riegel.

How to tackle the millennial turnout gap

Riegel is the co-founder of Motivote; a peer-to-peer social accountability platform that uses behavioral economics to improve voter turnout.

On paper, I'm a picture-perfect civically engaged millennial. I majored in political science, served in Teach for America and earned a master's in public administration.

But despite my passion for politics, I never voted in non-presidential elections. I knew it was important but didn't make it a priority.

Imagine what the country would look like if part-time voters like me showed up consistently.

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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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Timing is everything: Why 'off year' elections are a turnout buzz kill

The mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, had an answer for her city's historically low turnout in local elections. She blamed the schools.

"Part of the problem is public schools aren't teaching civic engagement," she said during a mayoral debate in May, the election a few days away.

One of her challengers, though, blamed the press. "If the media would get more behind things and get a fire going, we'd have better turnout," James McBride said.

And another challenger blamed the politicians. "We have leaders who don't want people to come out and vote because they know a low voter turnout favors them," Deborah Peoples said.

Peoples, the local Democratic Party chairwoman, lost the election and Price, a Republican, won her fifth term. But the research on what influences turnout suggests it was Peoples who was onto something.

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