In 2017, the Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) published Using Technology to Enhance Military & Overseas Voting Vol. 2: Recommendations for Use of Data Standardization and Performance Metrics, a report identifying the need for the development and implementation of the Elections Administration Voting Survey, Section B (ESB) Data Standard. This standard seeks to capture anonymized, transactional level data about the voting experience of citizens living abroad as well as members of the armed forces and their family members. As jurisdictions fully integrate the ESB Data Standard with existing election administrative systems, election officials will achieve the following aims:
Enhance their ability to identify factors that lead to voter success and allow for analysis across jurisdictions.
Ease the burden of post-election reporting.
Support the identification of best practices to improve customer service, among others
To conduct the process modeling exercise, the OVI—the interviewers—will convene a small group of state and local election officials—the subjects. Together, these teams will walk through each election jurisdiction’s UOCAVA voting processes and generate a visual model articulating the key steps within each process (see Figure 1).
According to John Dziurłaj, Solutions Architect at The Turnout and chair of the EAC-NIST Election Modeling Public Working Group , the size and structure of the subject group is vital to the success of this exercise. Smaller subject groups ensure quick resolutions to any disagreements and also facilitate discussion regarding deciding on and interpreting common terms. The size and composition of the subject group ensures that all discussions remain relevant to the exercise.
The Pennsylvania Pilot
In September of 2020, the OVI initiated its first process modeling pilot with state and local election officials from Pennsylvania. Both the workability of the state’s existing EAVS Section B data as well as their administrative capacity to collaborate with CSG on these efforts have uniquely positioned them to participate in the pilot.
In the months to come, five participating counties will assemble subject teams and attend virtual convenings to examine the UOCAVA voting process within their local context. By mid 2021, the OVI will publish a comprehensive analysis of the pilot’s outcomes and its implications for a future expansion.
For questions regarding the Overseas Voting Initiative process modeling exercises or the ESB Data Standard Roundtrip Pilot, please reach out to the OVI team or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an extraordinary year for election officials in many ways. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more voters will be voting by absentee or mail ballots rather than risk going into a crowded polling place. State laws on who can vote by absentee or mail ballot varies, but every election official in the country will see more absentee or mail ballots than typical. This will mean an uptick in the number of ballots that may need to be duplicated (or transcribed) before they can be sent through ballot tabulating equipment. See the first blog in our series on ballot duplication for more details on this process.
A presidential election draws significantly more voters than a midterm or local election, resulting in more ballots to count. With expanded for vote-by-mail and no-excuse absentee voting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant increase in the number of ballots marked outside of the tightly controlled environment of a physical polling place.
In this post, we’ll provide a general overview of the ballot duplication technology landscape and its innovation since OVI began to research this topic in 2016. We’ll then briefly highlight a local jurisdiction’s first use of ballot duplication technology in 2018 and how this advancement has proven helpful in processing their damaged or otherwise machine-unreadable ballots prior to counting.
Our first post in this series on ballot duplication served as an explainer to demystify this term, which refers to the process used to transcribe a damaged or unreadable ballot so that it can be counted.
In our second blog post, we shared the Overseas Voting Initiative’s (OVI) latest recommendations for ballot duplication in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this post, we will define ballot duplication technology solutions and give a general overview of how these solutions work.
Throughout our blog series on ballot duplication, the Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) has asserted that elections conducted during the coronavirus pandemic will likely yield a higher volume of ballots returned via mail or other methods.
As state primaries have come to a close, this assertion has often proven to be true. In the West Virginia presidential primary alone, slightly more than half of the state’s 436,000 votes were returned by mail. According to West Virginia Secretary of State Andrew “Mac” Warner, this constitutes a roughly 47% increase from previous presidential primaries.
Casting a Ballot: Challenges Faced by Overseas Voters
In 2016, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) conducted the biennial Overseas Citizen Population Analysis. This analysis indicated that there were approximately 5.5 million uniformed military and overseas citizens living abroad, of which 3 million were eligible to vote.
With an eye toward contingency planning for Nov. 3, 2020 and beyond, the Sustainability of UOCAVA Balloting Solutions Subgroup of The Council of State Governments Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) developed new recommendations for duplication of damaged and/or machine unreadable ballots.
Ballot duplication is a term well known to and commonly used by election officials throughout the U.S. This long-existing term — also known as ballot replication, ballot remaking and, less commonly but perhaps most accurately, ballot transcription — may sound a bit mysterious or perhaps downright nefarious to those not involved in the day-to-day intricacies of state and local election administration.
The ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has caused mail disruptions around the world that will undoubtedly impact the many American citizens living and working abroad when it comes time to vote in the November election. As of late June, the United States Postal Service (USPS) lists 103 international mail disruptions — a number that changes regularly.