Members of The Council of State Governments (CSG) Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) recently released a position paper titled, “Electronic Ballot Return for Military and Overseas Voters: Considerations for Achieving Balance Between Security and Ballot Access.”
Created by 14 state and local election officials comprising the Sustainability of UOCAVA Balloting Systems Subgroup (SUBSS), this set of recommendations was issued in response to the current state of change within the states regarding election policy. As states grapple with how to best serve their voters, SUBSS members are seeking to make clear that military and overseas voters face novel challenges when participating in elections. These challenges may necessitate the consideration of additional voting solutions such as electronic return of voted ballots. These recommendations are targeted towards key stakeholders within the elections community, such as election officials, state legislators, researchers and election-centered federal agencies.
Electronic ballot return poses unique advantages to military and overseas voters via its ability to serve highly mobile citizens and/or those in highly austere environments. This is a complex issue that requires balance between accessibility, security, and a level of acceptable risk.
Through these recommendations, SUBSS members shared further information on ways to mitigate the risks inherent to electronic return and the need for a fresh evaluation of all ballot return methods for military and overseas voters.
This is the second set of recommendations issued by OVI members within the past year regarding how states can best serve their voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). In July 2020, these election officials also put forth best practices on how states could overcome barriers posed by international mail disruptions experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Those recommendations are found here: https://ovi.csg.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FailSafeRecommendations.pdf.
Since 2013, the OVI has worked collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and our Working Group of state and local election officials to ensure election access for military and overseas citizen voters. The recommendations recently issued by the OVI are a culmination of these efforts and demonstrate the unique position of Working Group members to provide expertise and resources on electronic ballot return for UOCAVA voters.