Blog

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • Time for Act II of the MOVE Act

    Five Proposed Overseas and Military Voting Reforms

    By Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President and CEO, U.S. Vote Foundation

    Rarely does the first iteration of a law translate legislative intent into implementation flawlessly and durably. The legislative process allows us to correct, improve or update laws as needed in our changing times. It’s an ongoing process, and one we should embrace!

    A new round of legislative reform is needed to ensure that the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and its progeny continue to play a vital role. In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) was passed as a much-needed, bipartisan reform to UOCAVA; and it has served as a mechanism to modernize key aspects of UOCAVA. The MOVE Act’s creation was informed by years of research, including work by U.S. Vote Foundation’s (US Vote) Overseas Vote initiative (formerly Overseas Vote Foundation), and it has been demonstrably successful in accelerating the transition to online methods for most overseas and military voting processes across all states.

  • "Infrastructurally" Sound?

    A brief look at the changing face of U.S. elections

    By ElectionBabe aka Genya Coulter, Twitter Goddess at U.S. Vote Foundation @us_vote

    On January 7th, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security determined that US election systems (traditionally run by individual states with oversight by the Election Assistance Commission) should be considered to be part of the  “critical infrastructure” of the United States of America. Under this new designation, cybersecurity and compliance standards will be overseen by DHS. However, what does this mean to the average American voter? How will this impact the authority of state election officials? And what exactly is “critical infrastructure” anyway?

    Critical infrastructure simply means public systems that are essential for the operation and survival of a society and economy – The U.S. Interstates, the military, law enforcement, utilities, railroads, sewer systems, and cyber technology would all be considered critical infrastructure. As of January 2017, 16 key sectors have been designated as part of the critical infrastructure of the United States. Source: https://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors