For the first time this November, all Americans in foreign countries will be able, at least in theory, to cast absentee ballots in the presidential election. By abrogating some of the more stringent state residency laws, the Voting Rights Act amendments of 1970 were meant to enfranchise about 750,000 Americans of voting age living abroad—not counting servicemen, who have been voting from overseas for years.

Despite the new law, however, thousands of citizens abroad are going to remain voteless. While 33 states make it relatively easy for such citizens to cast their ballots, many others have made the process discouraging....

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