Blog

  • "EVERY CITIZEN IS A VOTER" - Diary of a Fundraiser

    Day 23 - From the Desk of US Vote Board Member Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State (2007-2015)

    Dear Readers,  

    Many years ago there was a small group of very dedicated U.S. citizens scattered around the globe that wanted to make it easier for other Americans living abroad to vote from anywhere on the planet. Voting is both a right and, as I would argue endlessly as Minnesota’s Secretary of State, a responsibility of citizens everywhere. And so, these passionate souls working to make overseas voting a more routine matter made me very happy.

    When I retired from my Secretary of State position it became possible for me to give back to the folks at Overseas Vote by getting involved as a Board Member and being part of the branding transition to U.S. Vote Foundation. I am proud to serve in this capacity and to be part of the transformation that is taking place right now within our organization and more broadly in the civic engagement community.

    But we need your help to keep this train moving forward. We need your social media skills to get the word out farther and faster about all of our great tools and services. And we need your financial support - small and large - to keep the organization strong and cutting edge.

  • The Key to Powerful Voting Apps: Good, Curated Election Data

    NEW! Civic Data API and Hosted Systems Website Goes Live

    US Vote’s new Civic Data and Hosted Systems Products and Services website welcomes civic tech developers, voter outreach organizations, and elections specialists to review and request API access to the data sets and systems that US Vote offers.

    The US Vote data sets include Election Dates and Deadlines, State Voting Requirements, Local Election Official Contact data, and Voting Methods and Options. The new site also presents US Vote’s custom Hosted Systems Solutions, most widely used for overseas voter outreach.

  • LOCelections - A New Initiative of U.S. Vote Foundation

    LOCelections logo

    Fixing the Problem of Low Voter Turnout in US Local Elections: A Data-driven Solution

    New LOCelections Whitepaper Now Available

    Early in 2016, U.S. Vote Foundation began a research and development effort into the area of local elections dates and deadlines information. We examined how best to create the nation's first reliable and comprehensive local elections database resource. The effort in now being developed into a full-scale initiative for the foundation, and an extension of our Civic Data and API offering. The new LOCelections Whitepaper discusses the challenge of low voter turnout in local elections and presents US Vote's rationale and strategy for this new initiative.

  • Demystifying Disability

    Creating better outreach and access for voters with disabilities

    By Genya Coulter, Twitter Goddess and Guest Blogger for U.S. Vote Foundation

    According to the American Association of Persons With Disabilities (AADP), 35.4 million people living with a disability were eligible to vote in 2016. That’s about one sixth of all eligible voters. If you add in those of us who are family members or caregivers, that total jumps to 62.7 million eligible voters. Organizations created for and by the disabled have done a spectacular job fighting against discrimination, barriers to physical  access, and plain old stigma and patronizing attitudes. In honor of their hard work and National Disability Voter Registration Week, here’s a practical guide for the election community to better serve a diverse and growing population of voters.

  • From the Battlefield to the Voting Booth

    Ideas on how best to serve disabled veterans

    By Genya Coulter, Twitter Goddess and Guest Blogger for U.S. Vote Foundation

    Members of the Armed Forces understand that putting duty and country before all else requires sacrifice. For those returning from service with some form of disability, their sacrifices and that of their families follow them daily. Some have lost limbs, some are paralyzed, and many have experienced traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Others experience hearing or vision loss. Even if a service member has voted overseas with the help of Overseas Vote or the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), sometimes voter registration and voting get put on the back burner during the process of creating a new normal stateside.

    While the provisions set forth in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 ushered in many new voting accomodations for veterans living with disabilities, there is still room for improvement. Where can the election community make a positive and lasting difference for disabled American vets, present and future?

  • Identity Crisis: What happens when nobody knows who you are anymore?

    By Genya Coulter, Twitter Goddess and Guest Blogger for U.S. Vote Foundation

    Voter ID has elbowed its way into the forefront of many a conversation about voting rights. Whether for or against, there is no shortage of opinions about how it should be implemented, and how best to get an ID into the hands of voters who may not have an “acceptable ID” to vote with at the polls on Election Day.

    Mediating this discussion on the US Vote Twitter account has been a wake up call to just how disconnected many people are from the various realities that many Americans face in the pursuit of their right to vote. Yes, the vast majority of people have no trouble obtaining a government ID. However, there are few demographic groups that experience great difficulty getting one: namely, the elderly, disabled, minorities, refugees, and people not born in a hospital.

  • When Local Goes National: A brief overview of Georgia-06, South Carolina-05, and the joy of high voter turnout

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

    Local elections are now the subject of intense national focus. The Congressional race for Georgia’s District 6 was being hotly debated by people who weren’t even residents of Fulton, DeKalb, and Cobb counties. Financially, GA-06 is now the most expensive House race in U.S. History…before AND after adjustment for inflation.

    As of this writing, Republican Karen Handel, former Georgia Secretary of State, has been declared the newest Congressional representative for Georgia’s District 6, defeating Democrat Jason Ossoff 53% to 47%. Well over 259,000 ballots were cast in the runoff election, when the final mail ballots are tallied; the number is expected to top 260,000.

  • 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.