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Blog

Official State Voter Turnout Rankings for 2016 Show Pathway to Increased Voter Turnout

Guest Blog from Nonprofit VOTE

We do not have to accept low voter turnout as an inescapable reality of American politics. States across the nation – with voter-friendly policies and meaningful competition – are providing a blueprint for the nation on how to achieve voter turnout in the 70 to 75% range. That’s the key message of a new report, “America Goes to the Polls,” from Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project.

Do You Know the Date of Your Next Local Election?

By Gavin Weise, U.S. Vote Foundation Civic Data Team

While the race for the White House and Congress gripped the nation in 2016, participation in – and even awareness of – local elections in the US has significantly declined in recent years, to an estimated average of 20% of registered voters. Voter turnout in special elections for vacant state and local offices is often in the single digits.

Ironically, these local elections concern the offices and issues that have clear and immediate implications for voters in their day-to-day lives – arguably more so than federal contests. Such elections are not only for mayors and council positions, but also local judges, sheriffs, clerks, school board members and other officials. Local elections also include community issues that are put directly to voters – through various ballot measures and initiatives.

The Hidden American “Never Resided” Voter

Are you an American born abroad – a US citizen despite the fact that you never lived in the US? And does that mean you can cast a ballot in US elections? The answer is yes for some of you, and no, for others. How can that be?

A new policy brief from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) clarifies how state laws affect the voting eligibility of Americans who were born abroad but have never resided in the United States.  FVAP refers to members of this unique group as “never resided” voters. In 2016, they seem to have become a vocal group – voicing their complaints in writing to the FVAP, the Pentagon agency whose mission it is to implement the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

A key factor for determining an overseas citizens’ voting eligibility is whether they meet the residency requirements of the state in which they are seeking to vote. For a “never resided” voter, their “Voting Address” is determined by their parent’s last address in the US.  If their parents are from two different states, then the “never resided” voter can choose in which state they wish to vote. Imagine the decision if one parent’s last address was in Nevada and the other’s in Florida. FVAP exposes that in this case, the decision is actually made for the voter, because Nevada accepts a “never resided” voter, and Florida does not.

Resolution by Dissolution?

The Aftermath of House Resolution 634,
The Election Assistance Commission Termination Act, and the Future of the EAC

By Genya Coulter, Twitter Goddess and Social Media Liaison at U.S. Vote Foundation

On February 7, 2017, the Committee on House Administration voted 6-3 in favor of dismantling the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC).[1] This vote was not without controversy, since the EAC was created in 2002 to serve as the lone bipartisan federal oversight panel for state run elections.

The EAC provides testing and certification for multiple voting technologies with the cooperation of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), determines grants and funding for election administration, standards for assisting disabled voters, updates voting machine technology, guides state and local election administrators with any number of election and voting matters, establishes “best practices” for states and counties to build upon, gathers data for government and public use, and perhaps most importantly, maintains voter rolls.

When the Committee on House Administration announced their vote, many election administrators and voting rights advocates quickly noted that without the EAC, they are without a designated federal body to certify voting equipment.[2] Many recent groundbreaking innovations including electronic poll books, expanded Vote-By-Mail, automatic voter registration, increased access for the disabled, and others, would languish without consistent communication and guidance from the Commission.

As Seen in GovTech.com - Using Tech, Data to Increase Voter Turnout

This article is by Adam Stone, Contributing Writer at GovTech.com. The article appeared on February 13, 2017. To see the original article on the GovTech.com website, please visit: http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/Using-Tech-Data-to-Increase-Voter-Tur...

To combat low voter turnout in local elections, the U.S. Vote Foundation is using data to improve those numbers by making polling information more easily available to voters.

They say “all politics is local,” and maybe that’s true, but not when it comes to actual local politics. In the elections that come closest to home, most people haven’t got a clue.

Turnout in local elections runs low, ranging from 27 to 34 percent, according to recent research. As a result, “important public policy decisions are being made without the input of most of the affected residents,” researchers note.

The U.S. Vote Foundation is looking to technology to improve the situation by making a range of polling information available to broad audiences of voters and groups that work to enable voting.

“These are the elections that impact people the most, and they are opting out because they don’t have access to the information,” said President and CEO Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat. “Data is the key that will unlock the door to what has been obscured to our citizens for a long time.”

Press Releases

Donald J. Morrison Elected as U.S. Vote Foundation Board Chair

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2017 – U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) welcomes a new board chair, Donald J. Morrison, elected today. Mr. Morrison will steer the organization through a vital year during which US Vote expands its civic data project to include local election data.   The effort will seek to bring the resources of Silicon Valley together with the civic world to increase voter information and participation.

Mr. Morrison brings a wealth of software industry, civic engagement, and funding experience to US Vote. He has grown four technology startups, taken several companies public and led numerous M&A and integration investments.

U.S. Vote Foundation Announces Kevin J. Kennedy as New Board Member

WASHINGTON DC, March 1, 2017  -- U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) announced today that Kevin J. Kennedy, former Director and General Counsel for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, has joined its board of directors.

Mr. Kennedy served for 33 years as Wisconsin’s Chief Election Official, 1983 to 2016. No other individual served longer in that capacity. Under his leadership, Wisconsin was consistently recognized as a leader and innovator in the administration of elections, lobbying and campaign finance.

“My first priority with US Vote will be to support its expansion into the arena of local elections data across the country. It’s exciting to be part of an organization that has spearheaded so many positive innovations in elections and I look forward to working toward its mission,” stated Mr. Kennedy.

U.S. Vote Foundation to Tackle a Nationwide Data Problem

New Local Elections Data Resource and API

NEW YORK, NY, January 18, 2017 – U.S. Vote Foundation’s (US Vote) twelve year investment in development of its election data and API technology will be used to address a vast and unmanaged data challenge: Local Election Dates and Deadlines. The announcement was released at the Knight-Civic Hall Symposium on Tech, Politics and the Media.

“Ask anyone if they know the date of their next local election and what it is about, or how to find out? They cannot tell you. People are not participating in the elections that direct affect the quality of their lives. We are poised to unlock this data and fix that problem,” states Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, US Vote’s President and CEO.

A Knight Foundation Prototype Fund grant for “Local Election Dates and Deadlines (LEDD) Data Resource and API” served to kick-start the program.

US Vote Announces 2016 Election Day Voter Experience Survey Highlights

January 16, 2017 - The 2016 Election Day Voter Experience Survey, conducted by U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) together with its Overseas Vote initiative from Nov 8-11, 2016, provides new insights into approximately 12,000 voters’ actual experiences of casting a ballot (or not) through six different voting methods, both domestic and overseas.

Highlights / Key Findings

Among the many new insights, certain findings stood out:

  • Satisfaction and Motivation – 76% of all respondents indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the voting process; and in a rating from 1 to 5, with 5 highest, overall voter motivation was 4.6%
  • Online Ballot Delivery Dominates for Overseas Voters – For the first time ever in a general election, overseas absentee voters in the 2016 election were more likely to receive their blank ballots through an electronic method (72%) than through postal mail

Consensus Reached on Recommendations Toward the Future of Internet Voting

 U.S. Vote Foundation Releases New System Requirements, Specifications, Architecture and
Cryptographic Foundations for End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting 

July 10, 2015 – Today’s release of The Future of Voting: End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study by U.S. Vote Foundation establishes a new reference for the security, usability and transparency requirements essential to the U.S. in any consideration of Internet voting for public elections. The announcement was made at the Annual Summer Conference of the National Association of Secretaries of State, hosted this year in Portland, Maine.

Developed by a team of the nation’s leading experts in election integrity, election administration, high-assurance systems engineering, and cryptography, the report starts from the premise that public elections in the U.S. are a matter of national security. The authors assert that Internet voting systems must be transparent and designed to run in a manner that embraces the constructs of end-to-end verifiability – a property missing from existing Internet voting systems.

An end-to-end verifiable (E2E-V) voting system allows voters to 1) check that the system recorded their votes correctly; 2) check that the system included their votes in the final tally; 3) count the recorded votes and double-check the announced outcome of the election.  An Internet voting system that is end-to-end verifiable is an E2E-VIV system. The new set of system specifications that could eventually lead to a model E2E-VIV system includes an ideal cryptographic foundation, security, audit, and usability considerations, as well as technical approaches to the system architecture.

View Your State Voting Requirements & Election Deadlines