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Every Voter Deserves Safe and Secure Ballot Access

U.S. Vote Foundation Launches Action Campaign - Calls on Voters to Speak Out About Access to Vote-by-Mail Ballots

No one is untouched by the current public health crisis. No one knows how long this will go on, or how it might transform itself and us. Each one of us, everyday, is personally faced with our challenge and responsibility to carrry on and to plan ahead.

But we do know that in the face of this crisis, Election Day 2020 is coming. What might seem eons away for some, is tomorrow for those who must prepare for it. We already know, that to make it safe to vote, we all need the option of a paper ballot that we can complete in our own home and mail back securely.

The amount of money allocated in the Phase III Stimulus Package to election preparednes in the face of this crisis was a fraction of what is needed. Tremendous time and effort is required to bolster the absentee vote-by-mail ballot processes around the country for what may be the largest General Election of our time. Preparations include defining new policies, purchasing equipment, printing, and increasing human resources, among other things. In a normal situation, what our election administrators are being asked to do this year would be done over five years.

This means - It's Time for Action.

Socially Distant Elections

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increase across the country, lawmakers are scrambling to provide voters safe and effective means to cast their ballots in the 2020 primaries

by Gavin Weise, Election Data Manager, U.S. Vote Foundation

A quick internet search for “safety and elections” yields page after page of articles on cybersecurity, foreign agents and congressional investigations. The past weeks have, however, brought to light a new vulnerability of our election infrastructure – something far less sinister but more terrifying, and in many ways more difficult to defeat.

Coronavirus, or COVID-19 has already affected state and local elections, as well as the 2020 presidential preference primary contests. It has changed and will continue to change, in some ways maybe forever, our approach to voting in the US. In response, election officials and lawmakers across states have resorted to a number of policy options and practices to try and ensure a safe environment for voters and the workers who make elections happen.

This article looks at what these options currently are, and what steps are likely yet to come.

Senate Introduces No-Excuse Vote-by-Mail Bill to Address Pandemics and Disasters

On March 18, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Wyden (D-OR) introduced Senate Bill 3529, the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) of 2020. [US Vote Bill Summary] [View/Download SB 3529]

The bill intends to provide a timely and "commonsense solution" to our ability to conduct the 2020 and future elections in the face of pandemics, emergencies and increasing natural disasters. U.S. Vote Foundation is pleased to see this action as a response to what our Foundation has called in our recent statement calling for broadened vote-by-mail services to ensure voters the ability to vote safely, without threat of disease or danger of any kind.

NDEBA calls for expanded no-excuse vote-by-mail absentee balloting and early voting. It outlines a comprehensive set of actions including, ballot tracking, signature verification and "curing", as well as emergency ballot procedures for voters whose requested ballots do not arrive in time. 

Take Nothing for Granted

2020 Primary Election / Caucus Voting Checklist

Being an active voter means never taking your rights or your current status on the voter roll for granted. Choosing which candidate is your party's nominee is the most crucial decision of the 2020 election. Make sure you weigh-in with your vote.

Make this a "no surprises" voting year and take the following steps on the U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) or Overseas Vote site - whichever suits you best:

  1. Check your Primary Election or Caucus Dates and Deadlines.

  2. Check your Registration Status on your state's voter registration rolls: go to the State Voting Requirements / State Lookup Tools and click "Am I Registered?" to get to your state's voter registration status lookup.

  3. Overseas Voters: Are you living, serving, studying abroad? Then you must refile your Registration/Ballot Request - one form does both! Overseas ballot requests expire annually - so make sure you apply in 2020.

  4. Domestic Voters: Did you move? Do you want to change or declare your political party for the Primaries? Did you miss a recent election? Best to refile your Voter Registration form if you have any doubts at all that your registration is not up to date.

  5. Vote-by-Mail/Vote from Home: If you are a registered voter, and will you be working, traveling, unable, or too busy to go to the polls - Apply for an Absentee Vote-by-Mail ballot! Vote-by-Mail ballot requests are usually valid for just one election - so make sure you apply in 2020.

Questions? Contact your Local Election Official who is ready to serve you: look up contact details in the Election Official Directory. Or, you can also send your questions to our Voter Help Desk.

The Ballot is Busted Before the Blockchain

As faithful blog readers, you've figured out that we are concerned about online voting apps, particularly unverified systems being pushed with the smokescreen of "blockchain" as the miracle cure to the security issues around internet voting. The Blockchain Papers series was created with the aim of collecting expert statements on this topic.

Here is the latest contribution to the series - no less than an actual security analysis of a certain blockchain system, Voatz, executed by a group of experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). You will find this analysis fascinating; in particular, the exposure of the use of third parties for voter authentication and the potential privacy violations that may ensue. The privacy risk to the voter, compared to other voting methods, is exponentially higher. Such risk, coupled with the lack of transparency, is enough to put an "Iowa chill" into anyone's bones. I invite you to read the report from Specter, Koppel and Wietzner; and the insightful articles published at the time of its release.

The Ballot is Busted Before the Blockchain: A Security Analysis of Voatz, the First Internet Voting Application Used in U.S.Federal Elections
By Michael A. Specter, MIT; James Koppel, MIT; and Daniel Weitzner, MIT; February 13, 2020

MIT researchers identify security vulnerabilities in voting app
Mobile voting application could allow hackers to alter individual votes and may pose privacy issues for users.
By Abby Abazorius | MIT News Office, February 13, 2020

Voting on Your Phone: New Elections App Ignites Security Debate
Excerpt: "...researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the app is so riddled with security issues that no one should be using it."
By Matthew Rosenberg | New York Times, February 13, 2020

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Press Releases

U.S. Vote Foundation Calls on Congress to Pass the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020

Immediate Legislative Action is Required to Provide All Voters Access to Vote-by-Mail Ballots

WASHINGTON D.C., March 24, 2020 - U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) today called for the United States Congress to pass the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) of 2020 to ensure that all voters have access to vote-by-mail and adequate early voting options in the event of natural disasters and emergencies, such as what we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 epidemic.

"As specialists in absentee vote-by-mail ballot request services, US Vote knows that to successfully expand vote-by-mail, it cannot be a last minute decision. We strongly encourage Congress to take swift and decisive action to pass this legislation and to fully fund the improvements that will be needed for the 2020 election to be a safe one for all Americans. When exercising one's right to vote threatens lives, we have a moral duty to act to protect both the voters and our democracy," said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, US Vote President and CEO. "Increased vote-by-mail volume could overwhelm election administrators unless immediate action is taken and they are given time to prepare."

U.S. Vote Foundation Calls on Congress to Mandate a Nationwide “No Excuse” Vote-by-Mail Option Across All States for 2020 Elections

Nationwide Response to Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Should Include Uniform Election Law Across All States to Allow All Voters to Request Vote-by-Mail Ballots without an Excuse

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 9, 2020 - U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) today called for the United States Congress to issue a requirement that all states remove any and all barriers to vote-by-mail/absentee ballot request across all states at all levels, federal, state and municipal, for all 2020 elections including primaries, special, runoff and general elections.

“Ensuring voters can vote from home is a responsible and forward-thinking policy action that Congress should include in its response to the current public health situation,” said Michael Steele, Chairman of US Vote and its Overseas Vote initiative. “It is impossible for voters to predict whether they will be healthy and able to vote in-person. They should be assured they can vote safely with an absentee vote-by-mail ballot.”

U.S. Vote Foundation Releases 2018 Post Election Summary Report

Introduction

The 2018 Election Day Voter Experience Survey conducted by U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) together with its Overseas Vote initiative from November 6-12, 2018, provides insight into 5,100 American voters’ experiences of casting a ballot (or not) through five different voting methods, both domestic and overseas; key points are presented here.

217,411 survey invitations were sent to voters on the US Vote and Overseas Vote mailing lists on November 6, 2018 and were further promoted through social media and partner mailing lists including those of American Citizens Abroad and Democrats Abroad. No reminders were sent. Altogether, 5,100 responses were collected before the survey was closed on November 12, 2018.

U.S. Vote Foundation Announces Unprecedented Rise in 2018 Midterm Election User Activity

Website and data services have become an invaluable resource for millions of voters worldwide

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 31, 2018 - U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) and its Overseas Vote initiative experienced a tremendous rise in user activity for the 2018 election cycle with over 1.75 million users, a stunning 10-fold increase over the 2014 midterm elections cycle.

Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President and CEO of U.S Vote Foundation and Overseas Initiative claims that “…this dramatic growth is a result of the tremendous press coverage and the growing awareness of voting rights and resources, particularly for US citizens overseas.”

Overall, US Vote’s technology supported 1.9 million sessions and 6.9 million page-views for this 2018 election.

View Your State Voting Requirements & Election Deadlines