FVAP & Election Officials: Our Road Ahead FVAP Director Matt Boehmer Texas Association of Election Administrators Midwinter Conference January 8, 2014
Who is FVAP?FVAP is a component within the Department of Defense (DoD).What does FVAP do? FVAP works to ensure Service members, their families and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to do so - from anywhere in the world.Why does FVAP exist?Congress decided the obstacles faced by Service members and overseas voters were unique and difficult to overcome without help navigating the process - and therefore an assistance agency was created to help both voters and local election officials.
What is UOCAVA?UOCAVA, or the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, as amended by the MOVE Act, requires U.S. States and territories to allow certain U.S. citizens to apply to register and vote absentee in elections for federal office. Citizens covered under UOCAVA include: 1. Members of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine who are absent from their voting jurisdiction due to their service.2. Eligible family members of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine who are absent from their voting jurisdiction with the member.3. U.S. citizens residing outside the United States and its territories
What was FVAP’s best news from 2012? FVAP evaluated the effectiveness of our resources, including FVAP.gov, Installation Voter Assistance Offices (IVAOs) and Unit Voting Assistance Officers (UVAOs). Of active duty members who interacted with one of these resources and received an absentee ballot, 86% voted and returned their absentee ballot. Of active duty members who received an absentee ballot, but never interacted with one of the resources, only 80% voted and returned their ballots. There is a positive relationship between FVAP and DoD resources and the likelihood of a UOCAVA voter returning their ballot. This was a great milestone for an “assistance” agency like FVAP.
Local Election Official SurveyFVAP Surveyed local election officials on absentee ballots processing: 4% of the total absentee ballots received from UOCAVA voters were rejected. The primary reason reported for ballot rejection was the receipt of the ballot after the deadline. Of those ballot received late: 68% of ballots rejected were initially transmitted by mail. 20% of ballots rejected were initially transmitted by email. 3% of ballots rejected were initially sent by fax. Sending ballots by mail still contributes to ballot failure rates. We can only encourage voters to return their ballots as soon as possible, but we can also develop ballot delivery tools.
How do we improve ballot transit time? State and local Cooperation FVAP awarded more than $25 million in 35 grants to States and localities between October 2011 and June 2012 in the first round of Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections (EASE) research grants which explored possible technological improvements for UOCAVA voters. A second round of EASE grants were made in 2013. Rockwell County, Texas received $2,398,836 for a consortium of 50 counties: Anderson, Angelina, Bastrop, Brazoria, Burnet, Caldwell, Cameron, Cherokee, Coryell, Ellis, Fannin, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grayson, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Hale, Hardin, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Hunt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Kerr, Lamar, Lampasas, Liberty, Navarro, Nueces, Orange, Parker, Potter, Randall, Rockwall, Rusk, San Patricio, Smith, Titus, Tom Green, Upshur, Val Verde, Victoria, Williamson, Wise and Wood. Travis County received $19,950.
Grant Recipients: Arkansas Arizona Bexar County, TX Boone County, MO (all MO) California Colorado City of Chicago, IL City of Detroit District of Columbia Dallas County, TX El Dorado County, CA (13 counties) Harris County, TX King County, WA (11 counties) Kitsap County, WA (16 counties) Idaho Louisiana Maricopa County, AZ Maryland Nevada Michigan Minnesota Montana New Jersey New Mexico New York Ohio Okaloosa County, FL (34 counties) Orange County, FL Oregon Rhode Island Rockwall County, TX (50 counties) Travis County, TX San Bernardino County, CA Santa Cruz County, CA South Carolina South Dakota +Nebraska Utah Virginia West Virginia Wisconsin Electronic Absentee System for Elections (EASE) Grants NJ RI MD DC FVAP EASE I Grant Awardees FVAP EASE II Grant Awardees FVAP EASE I and EASE II Grant Awardees
What are we learning? Military and overseas voters are willing to try electronic tools. Bexar County sent 58% of all UOCAVA blank absentee ballots to voters via its grant-funded tool. Dallas County used their electronic absentee ballot delivery system to send 2,615 ballots via email to UOCAVA, which was more than two thirds of the UOCAVA ballots sent. Harris County sent 6,420 blank absentee ballots via email to registered Uniformed Service members and overseas voters. FVAP will continue to receive data to gauge the effectiveness of grant-funded electronic tools for the next five years, covering the 2014 and 2016 General Elections.
What will the Rockwell consortium do? Acquire and implement a web-based electronic ballot delivery system for Uniformed Service and overseas citizens for the use of approximately 15,500 known UOCAVA voters. Voters will have online access to voter registration tools, absentee ballot notifications, on-demand, accessible ballot delivery and ballot tracking.
What will Travis County do? Enhance their ballot-by-mail software by replacing many manual procedures by automatically and electronically delivering a link to a PDF version of the voter’s ballot, which the voter can print, manually mark and then return by mail. This enhancement seeks improve voting for more than 2000 UOCAVA voters.
What can FVAP do for you? New Website FVAP’s new website is intuitive and easy to navigate. From our homepage you can click directly to the Election Official section. Quick links will also allow you to download and print forms and check your contact information.
What can FVAP do for you? Trainings FVAP is updating our local election official training. Should be available for use this month. Excellent resource for new members of your staff.
What can FVAP do for you? Reference Materials • Quick Reference Guides • FPCA/FWAB Flowcharts • PDF Postcard Notification • Frequently Asked Questions • New Fact Sheets
What can FVAP do for you? Postage-Paid Indicia Orange Registrar of Voters 1300 S. Grande Ave Bldg. C Santa Ana, CA, 92705-4434 James Larry Jones USS FVAP FPO AE 54321
What can FVAP do for you? Voter Look-Up FVAP has begun using a new system within the DoD to look-up military voter information. FVAP will provide more guidance on this as we develop business processes for sending and returning requests. We believe we will have more success with this system than our previous one.
Other Assistance FVAP continues to enhance and improve current resources: • Revised FPCA and FWAB • Direct communication with voters • Telephone and email assistance • Change of Address update between MPSA and USPS
Revised FPCA and FWAB • Voters and election officials noted that FPCA and FWAB were difficult to use. • FVAP used their suggestions and conducted usability sessions to revise the forms. • New versions available at FVAP.gov.
Going Directly to Voters Twitter @FVAP Facebook.com/DoDFVAP
Telephone and Email Assistance • FVAP continues to develop plans for handling calls, emails and faxes into our office during the 2014 Election Cycle. • In 2012, FVAP received 60,000 requests for assistance via chats, emails and faxes. M – F 0900 – 1700 ET 1-800- 438-VOTE(8683) 24-hour email and voicemail option firstname.lastname@example.org
Any Town, USA EWR Airport, NJ USPS Facility JFK Airport, NY USPS Facility Local Post Office Military Postal Automated Redirection System (MilPARS) USPS Responsibility DoD Responsibility Commercial Air Commercial Air Bahrain Airport Military MCA Change of Address notification will happen at the local level. USPS Processing & Distribution Centers Contracted or Military Air & Ground Kabul Airport Military MCA OR Unit Mail Clerks JMMT Kabul Redirect Point
How can you help FVAP? Connecting with Voters What about transmitting a blank ballot by email makes it more likely a voter will return it? Do you follow-up the ballot with email reminders? What are your thoughts? Voters often complain that after they send an FPCA there is no confirmation of receipt by an election office, what can we do to change this? Is it practical to expect this? What are your thoughts? What are other services FVAP could offer that would be helpful to you?
How can you help FVAP? Remember all UOCAVA ballots must be sent out January 18, 2014 for the March 4, 2014 Primary.