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Election Improvements will Help Voters at Home and Abroad

Last week LWVUS was proud to attend the 7th Annual Summit of our long-time partner, the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF). Gathered on a cold DC day, dozens of chief state election officials, federal representatives and advocates spent the day discussing the latest trends in overseas and domestic voting and looking ahead to improvements that can be made to ease the voting process for all Americans, but especially for our military personnel and other citizens, living and working abroad.

In a survey conducted after the 2012 election, OVF found that more than 80 percent of overseas respondents used the internet to gain information about voter registration or other steps in the voting process. And while a record number of overseas voters are now successfully utilizing online tools to request and receive voter registration and ballot information, 27 percent reported that they were unable to vote because they either did not receive a ballot or received it too late.  Other challenges included a lack of appropriate information for overseas voters on state and local elections officials’ websites, time constraints, and burdensome requirements or mailing guidelines, which can hamper overseas voters’ ability to successfully participate.

Among the major themes coming out of the conference was a resounding call for improvements like online voter registration, expanded early voting options, and better allocation of polling place resources – all of which the League has been talking up in recent weeks. 

We were also happy to hear in-depth analysis from our friend Peter Levine of CIRCLE, whose recent research on young voters shows that major opportunities exist to increase young voter participation in upcoming elections, especially if improvements are made in civic education and direct outreach to potential young voters at the high school and college levels.

Leagues around the country are already back to work visiting high schools and registering voters and are working with state election officials and lawmakers to promote voting improvements that work for all voters.