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June 28, 2017

CSG Releases Recommendations for Improving Military and Overseas Voting Data Collection

LEXINGTON, Ky.—The Council of State Governments' Overseas Voting Initiative recently published recommendations, as well as a corresponding final report, to improve Section B of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, or EAVS, which tracks military and overseas voter behavior.

The Council of State Governments has focused on improving Section B of the EAVS for the past year and a half in coordination with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, or EAC. The CSG EAVS Section B Working Group was formed, consisting of 13 state and local election administrators from across the nation.

"Working with election officials is critical to FVAP's mission of supporting military and overseas citizen voters," FVAP Director David Beirne said. "Our cooperative agreement with CSG has facilitated true collaboration with this dedicated community, especially in the important area of post-election survey data, which will drive greater insight into trends impacting military and overseas voters. Between these improvements and the work with the CSG Technology Working Group’s Data Standardization Sub-Group, FVAP is well positioned to apply more actionable data for improving the absentee voting process."

Securing quality election data from the states has been a challenge for decades. The EAC administers EAVS, a federally mandated biennial survey, to collect state-by-state data on the administration of federal elections. A corresponding EAVS report captures data on the ability of civilian, military and overseas citizens to successfully cast a ballot and contains the most comprehensive, nationwide data about election administration in the United States. It is a survey of all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"The EAC is pleased to have participated in the Overseas Voting Initiative's EAVS Section B work effort led by FVAP and CSG in cooperation with some fantastic state and local election officials from all over the country," U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson said. "Our 2015 EAC Data Summit was the catalyst for reassessing the approach to Section B and we hope the work we have done together will carry forward for future EAVS enhancements."

The careful collection, management and analysis of good election administration data is critical to providing voters with the highest quality electoral experience possible as well as helping state and local election administrators run better elections. State election administrators use EAVS data to design election administration policies addressing the number of advanced voting locations, election administration office hours, the implementation of online voter registration systems and the use of voter information and voter communication tools.

The CSG EAVS Section B Working Group recommendations include:

-Eliminate redundant survey questions.
-Improve the understanding of each survey question.
-Establish greater outreach to states prior to the submission of each biennial survey.

“We’re very pleased that through our collaboration with FVAP to create the Overseas Voting Initiative and implement its many projects, we have been able to convene such a knowledgeable and dedicated group of election officials to work up solid improvements to the 2016 iteration of Section B of the EAVS and to join with FVAP and the EAC to set a path for future improvements to the survey,” said Kamanzi Kalisa, director of CSG’s Overseas Voting Initiative.

The CSG EAVS Section B Working Group is part of the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative, which was launched in 2013 in collaboration with FVAP to improve the return rate of overseas absentee ballots from service members and U.S. citizens living abroad.

The report, titled Overseas Voting: Improving Military and Overseas Election Data Collection, is available here.


Additional information about the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative can be found at www.csg.org/ovi.

About The Council of State Governments

The Council of State Governments is the nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.