CSG and DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program Redesign Absentee Voting Forms for the 2018 Election Cycle

The voting rights of the millions of U.S. citizens living overseas, as well as Service members and their eligible family, are protected by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  About 75 percent of the 1.3 million service members, 700,000 family members, and an estimated 2.6 million U.S. citizens residing abroad are eligible to vote absentee through the UOCAVA process.

The Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA, and the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, or FWAB, make the voting process easier for these individuals. Both forms require review and public comment every three years. The Council of State Government’s (CSG) Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) worked with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) to redesign the forms in preparation for the 2018 election cycle.

The FPCA is the primary method that voters covered by UOCAVA use to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and update contact information with their election officials. The FWAB is a backup ballot that allows UOCAVA voters to write-in their vote if they have not received their state’s ballot in time for the election deadline. States must accept the FWAB in general, special, primary and runoff elections for federal office.

An iterative process of expert design input, information gathering and testing with election officials, stakeholders and voters was leveraged to study the existing forms and produce rounds of testable prototypes. Improvements were implemented based on feedback from a variety of stakeholders, namely state and local election officials, military voting officials, UOCAVA voters, and members of CSG and FVAP. The redesigns are now ready for public comment.

The updated FPCA and FWAB forms are user friendly, improve the voting process, and reflect current laws and policies. The forms are now available for public comment through the Federal Register:

To view and comment on the FPCA, please visit: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOD-2017-OS-0008-0002. DEADLINE - May 1, 2017.

You can find a listing of the draft changes based on the usability testing at: https://www.fvap.gov/info/news/2017/3/1/fvap-is-updating-the-fpca-and-wants-your-input

To view and comment on the FWAB, please visit: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOD-2017-OS-0011-0001. DEADLINE – May 8, 2017.

You can find a listing of the draft changes based on the usability testing at: https://www.fvap.gov/info/news/2017/3/9/fvap-is-updating-the-fwab-and-needs-your-input

The OVI is a cooperative agreement between The Council of State Governments and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP. The OVI is charged with developing targeted and actionable improvements to the voting process for the more than 1.3 million members of the uniformed services and Merchant Marine stationed away from home; their 700,000 eligible family members; and the 5.7 million U.S. citizens living, studying and working overseas.

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

Recommendations from the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative Technology Working Group can be found here: http://www.csg.org/OVI/documents/KKOVITechRecs.pdf