The goal of the Overseas Voting Initiative is to improve the voting process for citizens identified in the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The Council of State Governments assists the Federal Voting Assistance Program in aligning its ongoing efforts to engage stakeholders. The program’s working group researches critical areas for improving overseas voting processes.

The Overseas Voting Initiative at CSG has developed a series of articles, reports and resources that may aid state leaders as they respond to questions and confusion related to overseas voting.

In 2019, CSG released a comprehensive report examining the sustainability of balloting solutions for military and overseas voting. The report discusses barriers to sustainable balloting technology and examines why current solutions for ensuring the successful return of ballots have not been as sustainable as intended. It also identifies obstacles that must be addressed in future research.

Overseas voters face several challenges when attempting to cast their votes. This article discusses how military and overseas voting ballots are counted. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission conducts the Elections Administration Voting Survey every two years to identify factors that influence successful vote submission. However, the survey does not sufficiently isolate factors in overseas voter experiences. In response, the working group issued a set of recommendations for streamlining and improving the survey. The working group recommended the development and implementation of a survey data standard that would identify and store transaction-level data on voter experiences — without identifying information.

  • This report provides more information about the recommendations for data standardization.
  • This article identifies the benefits of the data standard.
  • This article highlights the progress that specific states, particularly Colorado, have made in implementing this standard.

Ballot duplication is another area of concern. Ballot duplication is the process of replacing damaged or improperly marked ballots (i.e., the voting system cannot read the ballot) with a readable ballot that preserves voter intent, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

  • This article explains ballot duplication, how it is conducted and why it is important.
  • CSG has developed recommendations for duplication of damaged and/or machine unreadable ballots and frequently asked questions (and answers) on ballot duplication.
  • The Overseas Voting Initiative has developed recommendations on Common Access Cards, digital signature verification and responding to unreadable or damaged ballots.

CSG research has also addressed misinformation and disinformation. Access to accurate, unbiased information is crucial to preserving the integrity and security of any election. This CSG article on election safeguards provides an overview of measures that the U.S. has implemented to combat disinformation.

Finally, CSG has developed a position paper with recommendations on how to achieve a balance between security and ballot access in electronic ballot return.

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