[Image courtesy of FVAP]
It’s that time of year when election data is seemingly everywhere – and the latest installment is from the DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, which yesterday released its latest report to Congress about voting Americans around the world under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Here’s the executive summary from the report:
This report fulfills the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) requirement for its annual report under section 20308(b) of title 52, U.S.C. It includes findings from FVAP’s post-election surveys and provides an assessment of activities supporting the 2014 General Election. It is important to remember that FVAP is an assistance agency — its mission is to inform voters of their right to vote and provide the tools and resources to help those who want to vote do so successfully — from anywhere in the world.
FVAP’s 2012 report recommended areas for action to further improve voting assistance efforts. Thanks to collaboration with FVAP’s many stakeholders — Congressional Leaders, Department of State, State and local election officials, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), advocacy organizations, and the Military Services — FVAP made important strides in fulfilling those initiatives. This report provides greater detail on these initiatives and introduces new efforts to support stakeholders during the 2016 election cycle.
Post-Election Voting Data
FVAP completed its statistical analysis of voter registration and participation rates, which included controlling for age and gender in order to normalize the active duty military (ADM) to be demographically similar to the citizen voting age population (CVAP).
• The analysis showed that the ADM rate of registration was higher than that of the CVAP, although lower than the last midterm election in 2010.
• In contrast, the voter participation rate of the ADM was slightly lower than that of the CVAP. Participation rates decreased for both the ADM and CVAP populations since the last midterm election.
• FVAP’s 2014 survey data showed that ADM who are married have higher participation and absentee voting rates. Married ADM also reported higher rates of requesting and returning absentee ballots compared to unmarried ADM in 2014.
Based on its research, FVAP has the following plans for the 2016 cycle and beyond –
Based on the 2014 election, FVAP will undertake the following activities to improve active duty military voter success:
• Develop a direct-to-the-voter training module to improve voters’ comprehension of the absentee voting process and the steps required to register and request absentee ballots and how to vote and return their ballots.
• Improve voters’ comprehension of absentee voting forms through the use of outreach education materials; develop short, attention-grabbing video series to introduce specific topics such as the use of key forms, tips for successful voting experience and how to update contact information with election officials.
• Work directly with State election officials to understand how UOCAVA ballots are handled, reasons for rejection and how FVAP can improve its communications to voters to reduce errors in the absentee voting process.
• Leverage collaborative effort with the Council of State Governments (CSG) to standardize and collect data on the individual UOCAVA voter experience; gain an improved sense of the root causes for ballot rejections.
• Standardize Voting Assistance Guide into plain language to better support [Voting Assistance Officers] in the field and individual voters who visit FVAP.gov.
• Assess the effect of the newly modernized mail systems on the number of undeliverable-as-addressed ballots.
In addition, FVAP is seeking to improve awareness of its full range of services for UOCAVA voters – and is working with election officials and others to improve data collection about voting participation by those voters plus how well they are being served at home and abroad.
FVAP’s work is both crucial and difficult; they are charged with helping Americans – both in and out of uniform and literally around the world – to cast timely and valid ballots. The work they are doing in both voter assistance and data collection is incredibly important. Thanks to Director Matt Boehmer, Deputy David Beirne and the rest of the FVAP team for the data collection and analysis that helped generate this report. [That photo is pretty cool, too.]
This is always a high-visibility and high-interest voting population … stay tuned.