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Feb. 12, 2018


CSG Releases Military Ballot Tracking Pilot Report


LEXINGTON, Ky.—U.S. military and overseas citizens often face obstacles participating in the election process. The Council of State Governments' Overseas Voting Initiative, or OVI, has been examining this issue and recently released a report that outlines recommendations to improve the process. 
OVI's Military Ballot Tracking Pilot, or MBTP, Report that details a coordinated effort—involving the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP, the U.S. Postal Service, or USPS, and the U.S. Military Postal Service Agency, or MPSA—to provide full tracking of military ballots destined overseas during the 2016 general election
MBTP deployed a full tracking system of both blank and voted ballots (1,588 ballots) navigating through the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Military Postal Service during the 2016 November General Election. No data had been collected on the life cycle of an absentee ballot for overseas military voters prior to this pilot project. This CSG effort is the first time ballots sent through domestic and military postal systems were tracked and analyzed as part of an overall effort to provide customer service and data.
“The MBTP Report contains valuable information that not only identifies the overall success of the military postal system in delivering and returning ballots to election officials, but it also demonstrates the value of solutions that drive customer service for military voters so they can anticipate and take action if their ballot is delayed,” said FVAP Director David Beirne. “Working with a national leadership organization like The Council of State Governments affords FVAP an opportunity to work with election officials and research new solutions that support our military voters so they can vote regardless of their duty station."
MBTP was launched in six local election jurisdictions in the United States: Orange County (California), San Diego County (California), City and County of Denver (Colorado), Escambia County (Florida), Okaloosa County (Florida) and Harris County (Texas).
The Federal Voting Assistance Program is the Department of Defense’s program charged with administering the federal responsibilities under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Actor UOCAVAThe mission is to ensure that service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to do so successfully. However, UOCAVA voters often face complexities in the voting process. To better research mail obstacles that military voters face, CSG, FVAP, USPS, and MPSA began the Military Ballot Tracking Pilot Program.
Paul Lux, supervisor of elections in Okaloosa County, Florida, said, “It was a privilege to participate with such a diverse group of stakeholders who were all focused on improving the absentee voting process for our military men and women overseas. For too long, those who defend our nation across the globe have been the hardest to reach with our precious right to vote. The work done with this project has provided us a framework upon which we can build a better means of enfranchising our military wherever duty sends them.”
“Orange County was a proud partner in the Military Ballot Tracking Pilot Program for a number of reasons—but most importantly on the list was the chance to improve confidence for our military voters. We saw increases in turnout for those whose ballots were tracked—while we do not know for certain if there is a correlation, we were excited to see this data and hope this expands in the future,” said Neal Kelley, registrar of voters in Orange County, California.
“CSG is honored that through our collaboration with FVAP to create the Overseas Voting Initiative and implement its many successful projects like MBTP, we have been able to convene some of the best election administrators in the states to improve the military absentee voting process,” said Kamanzi Kalisa, director of CSG’s Overseas Voting Initiative.
The MBTP was the first of its kind and sets the baseline for future research and education efforts on importance of a customer service model in the absentee voting process. Based on the findings from the pilot program, the USPS is examining the development of new services to encourage local election officials to offer tracking experiences similar to those of the MBTP.
The full report is available here
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.
For more information about The Council of State Governments, visit csg.org.