Kil Huh presented information on the voting experience and the amount of time it takes for military voters. He compared Alabama and Kansas and noted that the complex law in Alabama means that it takes many weeks longer to vote there than in Kansas because of complex state laws. Key question is mail transit time–to the voter and back–are a large barrier to voting for UOCAVA voting.
They found that in 25 states, even if everything goes perfect, it is likely that the voter will run out of time to vote and their ballot will be late. In 13 states you will likely run out of time and in 12 you will have about 5 business days to get everything done. Ballot request dates and ballot return deadlines are the key dates in the process. The Federal Write in Ballot can help but it is an imperfect tool.
Brian Nienaber and Celinda Lake presented data on the public attitudes toward military and overseas voting and improving the process. The public views this as a core value and this support crosses party lines. They also support having national rules and laws to serve these voters. Ironically, the individuals in the South are the biggest supporters of UOCAVA voting, even though the South is the region with the harshest and most restrictive laws that provide barriers to participation. 60% of individuals strongly favor and another 22% somewhat favor uniform federal laws for military and overseas voters. The South are the strongest supporters of these laws and Democrats just slightly are more supportive than Democrats of federal laws 63% of individuals support using new technology tools to allow UOCAVA voters to cast ballots.
These data from Brian and Celina contrast with the discussion with the Alabama Secretary of State. Southerners want change; their legislators seem to be stuck in an old mindset.