FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Catherine Lu
(702) 486-6982 / 334-7953
(Carson City, NV; November 1, 2012) – Nevada Secretary of State and president of the National Association of Secretaries of State Ross Miller, joined by four other Secretaries of State, today published “Military and Overseas Voters: Observations & Recommendations by a Delegation of State Chief Elections Officers.” The report is based on the first-hand experience of Miller and his fellow elections officers who toured the Middle East in September for the specific purpose of seeing military and overseas voting processes in action and gaining an understanding of how those processes can be further improved.
Miller was joined by Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, Louisiana Secretary of State John Thomas Schedler Jr., Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Ann Johnson, and Federal Voting Assistance Program representative Paddy McGuire. The trip was sponsored by the U.S Department of Defense.
“Clearly we’re making progress in ensuring our military personnel and overseas citizens have every possible opportunity to take part in the electoral process,” said Miller. “But there’s always room for improvement, and when it comes to assuring voting accessibility for our military and overseas citizens, every possible improvement should be pursued.”
Highlights of the observations and recommendations include:
- Handling of mail ballots has improved significantly, due largely to bipartisan efforts to address deficiencies, as well as enhanced procedures by the Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Military Postal Service.
- The process, procedures and educational voter outreach designed to ensure that military and overseas voters are able to timely receive and transmit their ballots prior to Election Day appear to be functioning very well.
- Outreach efforts at military installations included in the delegation’s tour were so effective that it is highly unlikely that any particular service member would not have been exposed to voting assistance messaging.
- Consideration and analysis of the effectiveness of Installation Voting Assistance Offices (IVAO’s) as brick and mortar facilities versus a larger investment in developing communication channels that would more effectively reach service members.
- Military members reported frustration with the inefficiencies in tracking or confirmation mechanisms in place while interacting with local election offices
- Exploration of whether use of a military ID card (Common Access Card) could streamline the process for the transmission of absentee ballots and allow military voters to securely receive and cast an absentee ballot through an encrypted email.
- Despite the significant efforts of FVAP and state and local elections officials, many voters still report that the cumbersome process of deciphering state-by-state procedures, timelines and deadlines can be absolutely mystifying. Further resources need to be devoted to allow state and local election officials to communicate jurisdiction specific information directly to the voter in an individualized communication.
- Military voters generally reported that they had no issues timely receiving and transmitting their ballots. However, many challenges remain in ensuring that eligible overseas citizens have adequate time to cast an absentee ballot.
The report will be submitted to United States Congress as well as other Secretaries of State for consideration of the recommendations. A public copy of the report is available for download here or at the Nevada Secretary of State’s website, www.nvsos.gov.
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