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From The Council of State Governments’ OVI Policy Working Group Co-chairs:

As co-chairs of The Council of State Governments Overseas Voting Initiative Policy Working Group, it is our great pleasure to release the detailed report concerning the working group’s recommendations to improve the voting experience for our military and overseas voters. In late 2013, The Council of State Governments, or CSG, and the U.S. Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP, entered into a four-year partnership to improve the voting process for service members, their families and U.S. citizens living abroad. One component of the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative, or OVI, was the creation of a Policy Working Group composed of state and local election officials. We—Kim Wyman, Washington secretary of state, and David Stafford, supervisor of elections for Escambia County, Florida—had the pleasure of working with the following talented and dedicated election officials on the Policy Working Group:


As the foundation of this work effort, the OVI Policy Working Group examined successful programs and practices across
the country as well as recommendations from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration related to military and overseas voting. The OVI Policy Working Group met in person in San Antonio, Texas; Pensacola, Florida; and Orange County, California. These locations were chosen for their proximity to U.S. military installations, which facilitated conversations with local military voting assistance officers and installation commanders. In San Antonio and Pensacola, we were able to make onsite visits to the installations. Our meetings also included presentations from academics, election data analysts, U.S. Election Assistance Commissioners, Federal Voting Assistance Program officials, and state and local election officials. The OVI Policy Working Group also held several teleconference meetings as we worked toward our final recommendations.

The product of the OVI Policy Working Group is the result of the collaboration of a bipartisan assemblage of elected and appointed officials and should be viewed as the collaborative work of the committee, not necessarily representing the positions or beliefs of any individual working group member. Although the members of the working group represent a wide diversity of voting populations, we all experience similar challenges when it comes to providing ballots to military and overseas voters, and are likewise committed to improving the process. Our policy recommendations reflect a commonsense, actionable and practical approach to facilitating the overseas voting process regardless of jurisdiction size or structure. Our recommendations include:
Voter Communication:


Voter Registration:


Engagement with the U.S. Military Community:



We encourage you to read the full report for more explanation. All of our recommendations are currently in place in some jurisdictions throughout the county and are considered best practices by the OVI Policy Working Group. With the exception of the recommendation for permanent voter registration for FPCA voters, most of the recommendations can be implemented immediately by state and local election officials without legislative changes. It is our sincere hope that this report will provide state policymakers and state and local election officials with actionable recommendations that will better serve America’s military and overseas voters, and improve the rate of timely returned and counted ballots from this population.


Kim Wyman
Secretary of State


David Stafford
Supervisor of Elections
Escambia County