Overseas Voting Initiative

September 24, 2016 is the federally mandated deadline for all states to send out validly requested absentee ballots to Service members, their eligible family members and overseas U.S. citizens for the November 2016 General Election.

The American public expects customer service in their everyday activities and voters are no exception. The election community has an opportunity to improve the absentee voting process for military and overseas citizens by communicating to them at each stage of progression toward a counted ballot. Adopting this practice can help empower a set of voters who may otherwise have serious doubts about their votes being counted.

Members of The Council of State Governments’ Overseas Voting Initiative Technology Working Group discussed technology that could help U.S. military and overseas citizens in the voting process during a recent CSG eCademy webcast.

CSG Midwest
Under a new law that received unanimous approval in the state Legislature, Iowa is making it easier for members of the military and other overseas residents to vote. HF 2147 gives overseas voters an extra 30 days to request and return special absentee ballots. (The period of time was extended from 90 days to 120.) Statutory language also was changed to prevent overseas ballots from being rejected by county auditors.

For U.S. service members and citizens living overseas, participating in elections back home can be a challenge—requiring requests for ballots in advance of Election Day and allowing sufficient time for their return stateside to be counted. The Council of State Governments’ Overseas Voting Initiative, or OVI, is working cooperatively with the Federal Voting Assistance Program, a U.S. Department of Defense agency, to develop best practices for state and local election administrators to help make voting an easier, faster and more accurate process for military and other overseas U.S. citizen voters—and the election administrators who serve them. In this FREE CSG eCademy webcast, members of the CSG OVI’s Technology Working Group discuss the group’s efforts to research improvements incorporating technology that can help U.S. election officials facilitate and improve the overseas voting process for their constituents. Presenters also share progress toward the development of the CSG OVI Technology Working Group recommendations, which will be released in December at the CSG 2016 National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Va.

A growing number of U.S. military members stationed overseas have seized the opportunity to cast their votes in the 2016 presidential primary.  A recent study suggests that spouses of active duty military (ADM) stationed overseas could be influencing their partners to participate in the election process. The study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program found that overseas married service members were more likely to vote than their unmarried counterparts. This correlation between spouses and voting participation could be particularly useful during a time when efforts are being made to streamline the voting process and encourage more overseas military personnel to vote.

Nevada’s military services members, their families and civilians residing overseas were provided the opportunity to have their votes cast in the state’s 2016 caucuses. This is an important development as caucusing historically has been a you-have-to-be-there event. 

For decades, members of the U.S. military and their dependents experienced problems at every step of the overseas voting process: registering to vote, requesting and receiving absentee ballots, and returning absentee ballots. State and local election administrators face challenges associated with maintaining accurate registration rolls for a highly mobile and transient population, some of whom reside in remote areas of the world. While significant progress has been made, there is still room for states to improve the military and overseas voting process. In this session, key stakeholders shared their experiences and perspectives in working to enhance voting for overseas Americans. They also discussed the need for state-level policy improvements to better enfranchise this important voting population. This session also explained how CSG, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, is helping to improve the U.S. military and overseas voting process through the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative.

For decades, members of the U.S. military and their dependents experienced problems at every step of the overseas voting process: registering to vote, requesting and receiving absentee ballots, and returning absentee ballots. State and local election administrators face challenges associated with maintaining accurate registration rolls for a highly mobile and transient population, some of whom reside in remote areas of the world. While significant progress has been made, there is still room for states to improve the military and overseas voting process. In this session, key stakeholders shared their experiences and perspectives in working to enhance voting for overseas Americans. They also discussed the need for state-level policy improvements to better enfranchise this important voting population. This session also explained how CSG, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, is helping to improve the U.S. military and overseas voting process through the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative.

For decades, members of the U.S. military and their dependents experienced problems at every step of the overseas voting process: registering to vote, requesting and receiving absentee ballots, and returning absentee ballots. State and local election administrators face challenges associated with maintaining accurate registration rolls for a highly mobile and transient population, some of whom reside in remote areas of the world. While significant progress has been made, there is still room for states to improve the military and overseas voting process. In this session, key stakeholders shared their experiences and perspectives in working to enhance voting for overseas Americans. They also discussed the need for state-level policy improvements to better enfranchise this important voting population. This session also explained how CSG, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, is helping to improve the U.S. military and overseas voting process through the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative.

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