Blog

  • New! Ballot Return Options Chart

    Do you have questions about how to return your ballot without putting it into the postal system?

    U.S. Vote Foundation has answers for you on our new Ballot Return Options chart.

    We are all a bit shaken by the compounding news stories relating to our treasured U.S. Postal Service. With so many voters needing absentee vote-by-mail ballots to participate this year, the timing of this drop in postal service efficiency is disastrous.

  • Votes for Women!

    With the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution upon us, it’s worthwhile taking a look at what led to that historic moment a century ago. While 1920 marked the first election in which women could vote for president, it was hardly the first time that women were “allowed” to vote in the United States. The saga of the journey from colonial disenfranchisement to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the modern era is a journey into the complicated history of voting in the United States, one that has oscillated between inclusion and exclusion since the dawn of our democracy.

    One of the first women to vote in the United States, according to historian Stephen Ambrose, was Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman who helped lead the Lewis and Clark expedition from the Central Plains to the mouth of the Columbia River. At a key moment in their journey in 1805, a decision to proceed by one route or the other was decided by a voice vote of the entire Corps of Discovery, including Sacagawea as well as York, William Clark’s slave. As both were technically slaves (Sacagawea had been kidnapped and “married’ to a French trader at the age of 15 after her original owner lost her in a card game), the significance of this vote is not to be denied, however little it actually influenced voting rights back home.

  • Top 15 Absentee Vote-by-Mail Ballot Questions of 2020

    Here are the most commonly asked Domestic and Overseas Absentee Ballot questions from our Voter Help Desk. Have a look and see if your question is answered.

    1. Is there still time to request an absentee ballot?

    2. When are ballots mailed out and where’s mine?

    • States vary in their timing for mailing out ballots. For domestic voters, expect it to be sent about 4 weeks prior to Election Day. For overseas voters, it will be sent as of 45 days prior to the election.
    • If you sent your ballot request form to your election office and confirmed that you are registered, but don't yet have your ballot - it is good to check on its whereabouts as soon as possible.
    • Go to the State Voting Requirements directory: Look up your state and open the "State Lookup Tools - Am I registered? Where's my ballot?" section. There you will see the "Where's My Ballot" link - if your state offers it (they don't all have this).
    • If the "Where's My Ballot" link is unavailable or you do not find your ballot, you will need to look up and call your election office - they manage ballot sending and counting.
    • Also, check out the new Ballot Return Options chart.

  • Dispatches: An “Only in America” Story Inspires Voters

    This second post in a new series on overseas voting is by Mariana Neisuler, a career diplomat in the U. S. diplomatic service. Her views are presented in a personal and non-partisan capacity and do not represent those of the U.S. Department of State.

    My Macedonian driver was chatting away as he made blood curdling turns along a mountainous road on the way to an Albanian village. It was June 2008 and Macedonia was holding its first early elections since the country’s founding in 1991. I was the Embassy’s elections monitor.

  • Election Chaos is a Local Issue Too

    Every four years we gear up for a presidential election that consumes our collective attention like no other national event. The amount of energy – positive and negative – devoted to the primaries, the conventions, and the general election often obscures those other elections that take place on November 3.

    The other elections? I’m talking about elections for city councils, school boards, transportation districts, all manner of county and state offices, referenda, and recalls: with over 90,000 (!!) different voting districts across the country, it’s no wonder that the ballots we’ll receive will be many pages long. The voter guides in some states, like my home state, California, tend to look like phone books (Ok, boomer, I’m old), confusing and poorly indexed phone books to be precise.

    As we prepare for what is going to a massively complex election, one that is looking more and more like it will be a largely vote-at-home election, it’s important to remember we’re voting for a huge number of other people and issues than who will be sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the West Wing come January 20.

  • Dispatches: We have the power to hire and fire our government. Let’s Vote!

    This inaugural post in a new series on overseas voting is by Peter Neisuler, a career diplomat who has worked in the U. S. diplomatic service for over 15 years. In addition to his official duties, Peter, his fellow-diplomat wife Mariana Neisuler, and their children are all volunteers for U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) and Overseas Vote. Their views are presented in a personal and non-partisan capacity and do not represent those of the U.S. Department of State. In Peter's words: "This is the first in a series of blogs about how our experiences serving the U.S. abroad have shown us how important it is to vote. We''ll be writing about our experiences in Dubai, Macedonia, Russia, and Jordan."

    Diplovoter: Silk Stockings and Powdered Wigs in the Dubai Desert

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has a strange climate. Its glimmering skyscrapers and malls rise on the desert sand, their air conditioning a welcome relief from the pitiless heat – which gets well over 100 degrees for much of the year. Worse yet, because it’s next to the sea, it’s humid – but never rains. Probably not a great place for the 18th-century fashion trend of powdered wigs and silk stockings to take hold…Or is it?

    As a junior officer in the U.S. Foreign Service in Dubai about 15 years ago, I got an unusual request from an Emirati friend in the Ministry of Education: could I find and send him a picture of the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia? As Americans, we’ve seen images of the event in our history books with the silly-looking 18th-century clothing adorning the otherwise gravely serious representatives.

  • Much ado about mail voting

    Why we shouldn’t fear an all-mail voting pandemic

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

    The Wisconsin primary held earlier this month has shown us that in-person voting right now is impractical, if not downright dangerous. Mail voting, meanwhile, is offering an attractive solution to a very sticky problem – how to complete the 2020 primaries and general election without major health risks. Not surprisingly, academicians, voting advocates, and of course, politicians, have all jumped into the discourse.

    For voting rights advocates, it is an unprecedented moment to push forward an important agenda issue, an opportunity to expand enfranchisement and improve turnout. Opponents of mail voting have been quick to point out the risks of voter fraud, although with underwhelming evidence. Republican candidates, including President Trump, have expressed concerns about the GOP’s chances if the electorate votes predominantly by mail. But there is again little evidence to support such a claim. According to Richard Hasen, law professor at the University of California – Irvine and author of the Election Law Blog, Republicans and Democrats alike benefit from by mail voting “Republicans have long enjoyed the convenience of vote by mail”, says Hasen. “Heavily Republican Utah uses all mail elections and regularly elects Republican legislators. Voters across the political spectrum like the option of vote by mail.”

  • 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 Thompson 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.

  • U.S. Vote Foundation Calls on Congress to Include Urgent Contingency Funds in Phase III Supplemental to Assure Safe Voting

    URGENT MEMORANDUM

    March 21, 2020

    To the Honorable Chairman Roy Blunt and Senate Rules Committee Members:

    As Chairman of U.S. Vote Foundation, I urge you to personally support, and to call for all Senators to embrace the role and responsibility of the federal government to ensure that all states can provide the necessary voting methods for every eligible American to safely cast a ballot in the November 2020 General Election. Ensuring the security of U.S. campaigns and elections is essential to our democratic process.

    We implore you to allocate $2-4 Billion of funding in the final Phase III Supplemental for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to direct to the states to help them to execute on the programs needed to guarantee safe access to ballots for every eligible voter. Effective state action is only possible with a timely call to action and adequate funding.

    Faced with the Coronavirus Pandemic and its unknown scope and length, election administrators in all states must begin preparation to implement the full range of safe methods for voters to cast their ballots, including no-excuse absentee balloting/vote by mail, early voting and in-person voting.

    A sufficient response will require immediate action and funds to implement and scale up these procedures in time to assure a smooth-running general election.

    Bipartisan support for expeditious action by Congress on legislation that will ensure all voters have access to their ballots for the November 2020 General Election is warranted.

    On behalf of the Board of Directors of U.S. Vote Foundation,

    Michael Steele, Chairman
    U.S. Vote Foundation