Military Voters Key Issue in New Election Commission Report

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its findings this week. While many media outlets zeroed in on the issue of lines and wait times at polling places, the critical topic of voting by overseas military personnel was clearly on the mind of commission members. The disparity in state and local practice related to providing absentee ballots to service men and women stationed aboard and providing an easy way to access and then submit these ballots is increasingly apparent, according to the Overseas Vote Foundation; research from the group shows that only 26 states offer a direct link to military and overseas voter services on their voting/elections homepage.

The Council of State Governments, through a cooperative agreement with the US Dept. of Defense’s FVAP office, is spearheading a four-year program to improve states’ ability to enfranchise overseas military voters. CSG’s efforts formally begin next month with the convening of a National Policy Advisory Group composed of secretaries of state, state election directors and local election officials to chart specific recommendations to states for improving their ability to meet the demands of overseas military voters. The effort will then be joined by a National Technology Advisory Group that will examine ways in which state and local jurisdictions can better utilize technology to simplify the accessing of voting information and absentee ballots, with an eye toward improving how such ballots are transmitted and counted in their home jurisdiction in a timely manner.