OVF Report

I am in DC for the NASS and NASED meetings, and on Thursday I attended the 2009 OVF Summit on overseas voting.   While I’m sure this was not quite the same locale as the meeting held in Munich, there was pretty good turnout, particularly from a number of Senate and House staffs.

OVF released a report from a survey of overseas voters and LEOs.  The full report can be found here: https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/initiatives-research

The survey has some problems–it is culled from the OVF mailing list, and is highly skewed toward overseas citizens (not much military), who are highly educated.  Toby Moore of RTI put it best when he downplayed the representativeness and described this as a “catalog” of problems, concerns, and opinions about overseas voting.

That being said, the sample actually strengthens some of the findings in the report.  For example, less than half of the respondents were familiar with the Federal Write in Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  If this audience does not know about the FWAB (76% of respondents had a BA or higher), then what about the broader overseas and military population?

There were a series of policy recommendations.  I’ll flag a few that I thought were most important;

  • More work needs to be done to publicize the FWAB.  This is a no-brainer.
  • OVF proposes a “same day” registration and voting system by merging the FPCA form and the FWAB.  This is a really interesting idea and might make things much easier for overseas voters.
  • We should move to uniform state laws on UOCAVA–this process is well underway.

One last interesting finding: a substantial number of voters were confused, rather than helped, by electronically delivered voter registration materials.  What they did was then return the forms electronically (fax or email) without realizing that they had to follow up with a signed, printed form.  Interesting case where technology may actually be hindering, not helping, voters.