New Virginia Election Law Implements CSG's Overseas Voting Initiative Recommendations
On Jan. 18, the Virginia Senate introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1490 to the Committee on Privileges and Elections calling for a pilot program that would allow the use of Common Access Card, or CAC, digital signatures on election materials. The proposed pilot program was adapted from a recent report from CSG’s Overseas Initiative, Recommendations from The CSG Overseas Voting Initiative Technology Working Group, released in early December 2016.
The CSG report recommended permitting an active duty member of a uniformed service who has been called to duty for deployment to sign the military and overseas registration and ballot request application, the “statement of voter” which accompanies the military-overseas ballot, and any other related documents using the digital signature associated with their unique Common Access Card, or CAC. The CAC is a smart card that is used as the standard identification for active duty uniformed service personnel, Selected Reserve, U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees, and eligible contractor personnel, issued by the DoD.
In a letter to Virginia Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortes, Director David Beirne of the DoD Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP, said, “by accepting CAC digital signatures, States would make it far easier for military members serving away from their home jurisdiction to register and request an absentee ballot” as well as “ensure that election officials can verify an individual’s identity using the best technology possible.”
Commissioner Cortes said that while the pilot program process is a lengthy one, state officials have a good idea of what is required to make this bill come to life should it be signed into law, as quite a lot of groundwork and research has been done to prepare for this advancement. “It will be something new for us,” he said, and if enacted, he said the commission would “take things slow to get it done right.”
While the bill has cleared the Senate, the wait is still on to see how the House votes on the election pilot program amendment. Upon passage in the House, the legislation would go to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk for signature.
CSG’s Overseas Voting Initiative launched in 2013 with intentions to improve the return rate of overseas absentee ballots from service members and U.S. citizens abroad. The link to CSG’s Overseas Voting Initiative can be found here: http://www.csg.org/ovi/default.aspx
Direct link to the Recommendations from the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative Technology Working Group aforementioned can be found here: http://www.csg.org/OVI/documents/KKOVITechRecs.pdf