Overseas Vote Foundation Announces New Domestic Initiative

“U.S. Vote Foundation” Provides State-Specific Voter Registration & Facebook Integration

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 27, 2012 – Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) today proudly launched its new domestic voter engagement initiative known as U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote). 
 
 “It’s time to provide U.S.-based voters with the same breadth and quality of online voter services that we have been providing to overseas and military voters for more than five years,” said OVF President and CEO Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat.
 
Dzieduszycka-Suinat unveiled the new US Vote endeavor to the 175 attendees of the OVF Sixth Annual UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) Summit 2012 at a noon press conference. The day-long event at the Mayflower Hotel features a lineup of prominent voting and technology experts as thought-provoking keynote speakers and guest panelists for roundtable discussions on controversial topics.
 
Summit 2012 is being webcast LIVE and can be viewed at
Follow us on Twitter (@overseasvote) and be part of the conversation - #ovfsummit
 
US Vote will utilize OVF’s friendly web-based information tools combined with its brand new state-specific voter registration capability. The new website, www.usvotefoundation.org, features the complete suite of voter services that OVF is known for, as well as two recent enhancements:
 
Facebook Integration – Users can take advantage of the first voter registration tool integrated with Facebook to save time on data entry.
 
My Voter Account – Recent upgrades have been made to this “personal democracy dashboard,” where users can manage and maintain their data for voting purposes. It makes the repetitive tasks of registering and requesting a ballot easier. 
Featured applications include:
  • Voter Registration: provides user-friendly assistance to generate a completed state-specific registration application that meets state requirements
  • Election Official Directory: maintained as the nation’s most comprehensive database of election official contact, website, email and address data for every U.S. voting jurisdiction
  • State-specific Voter Information Directory: offers state-specific information including election dates, form filing deadlines, identification and other requirements
  • Voter Help Desk: offers an instant response knowledgebase of commonly asked election and voting questions
  • Candidate Finder: links users to candidate names and backgrounds, accessed simply by entering a voting address
Screenshots of the new site are available to the media upon request.
 
More services are in the works. US Vote aims to launch an absentee ballot request service for domestic voters by April of this year.
 
With reputational excellence for attracting hard-to-reach overseas and military voters, the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization sees the domestic market as a natural extension to its current “3D” strategy: development (technology and services), data (research) and dialogue (conference and communications programs).
 
“We believe that providing voter registration alone is not enough,” said Dzieduszycka-Suinat. “It is equally important to provide supporting services to our domestic voters so they can manage their longer-term civic engagement. We feel strongly about monitoring and researching their success, or failure, in the voting process and using our research to inform the election community.”
 
OVF has plans to engage state election leaders and voter engagement organizations about potential implementation for its full platform of services. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie voiced his support.
 
“We’ve often wondered if OVF would consider tools for domestic voters,” said Ritchie. “As a licensee of OVF’s hosted system solution for overseas and military voters, we here in Minnesota know what a difference a comprehensive voter services website can make. We’ve had great success with our OVF partnership in building voter turnout and the percentage of ballots returned and counted, so we’re excited this day has come.”
 
Leaders in the civic engagement world are also noting its timely arrival.
 
“We’ve been searching for a new, full-service voter registration destination to recommend to our audience and US Vote is it,” said Matt Segal, founder of OURTIME, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the rights and responsibilities of young Americans. “US Vote will empower our young professionals who care about our country and its future, but oftentimes find themselves strapped for time to register or vote during ‘regular’ working hours. And OVF’s history of success proves they can sustain their efforts and grow the initiative responsibly and in a truly cutting-edge way.”
 
OVF has self-funded the creation and deployment of US Vote, while it is seeking additional partners for future development, including the domestic absentee ballot request wizard. Licensed customized versions of the software will be available through the OVF Hosted Systems program to organizations that wish to offer the same services within their own websites.
 
The OVF Summit 2012 also saw the release of new overseas and military voter research from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).
 
Pew’s newest report, “Democracy from Afar: States Show Progress on Military and Overseas Voting,” highlights the many changes in state military and absentee voting laws in the past two years, noting 2012 will mark the first presidential election since these reforms went into effect. Among its findings:
  • In 2010 and 2011, 47 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws to protect the voting rights of military and overseas citizens.
     
  • Thirty-seven states and the District have laws or rules meeting or exceeding federal requirements to send ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before an election. Eight additional states changed their primary dates to accommodate the requirement.   
Pew is distributing a separate release on this report. The report can be found here: http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/Pew_Democracy_From_Afa....
 
FVAP also shared information from the Overseas Citizens Count (OCC) Project. This study, in which OVF played an active role, is the first attempt to quantify this hard-to-reach population.  The preliminary data show there could be more than twice as many Americans living abroad than the 2010 Census estimate of 1.04 million. Countries with the highest numbers of U.S. citizens are: Mexico, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom and Germany.   
 
The OVF Summit 2012 is made possible by the generous support of several sponsors. BIPAC is the Summit’s Lead Sponsor. The Pew Charitable Trusts is the Reception Sponsor. Sustaining Sponsors are Global Touch Inc. and FedEx. Bear Code LLC is a Supporting Sponsor. Targeted Sponsors include Democracy Live, Inc., eVoter, Microsoft, and the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.
 
Full details on the Summit can be found here:
 
The pre-Summit release, highlighting speakers and panels, can be found here:
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About U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote)
U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) provides U.S. citizens with public access to innovative voter registration tools and services. It is a new trademarked initiative of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Overseas Vote Foundation. More information is available at www.usvotefoundation.org, Twitter (@us_vote) and Facebook (US Vote).
 
About Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF)
Overseas Vote Foundation helps overseas and military voters participate in federal elections by providing public access to innovative voter registration tools and services. It is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. More information is available on our website (www.overseasvotefoundation.org), Twitter (@overseasvote), Facebook (Overseas Vote Foundation) and YouTube: (www.youtube.com/overseasvote).