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An U.S. Election Assistance Commission blog written by former Commissioner Matthew Masterson


EAC & FVAP Team Up to Serve Election Officials and Voters

Mar 28, 2016

This blog post is a joint blog post from EAC Commissioner Matthew Masterson and Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Director Matt Boehmer.

Last week, both EAC and FVAP had the pleasure of traveling to New Jersey to meet with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and advocacy groups from across New Jersey. During our visit, we also had the privilege of speaking at the annual New Jersey election official conference.  It was a fantastic three days of listening and learning from and with the election officials of New Jersey.

Our presentations centered around one theme:  EAC and FVAP are here to serve election officials and voters. Our message is unified because we are two Federal agencies working together to achieve similar yet distinct missions. Since the EAC regained a quorum of commissioners in January 2015, our agencies have made it a priority to work together to increase our efficiency and efficacy.  In doing so, we are focused on three discrete areas:

  • Improve collection and dissemination of military and overseas voter data.
  • Work directly with state and local election officials to create best practices and ideas to better serve military and overseas voters.
  • Improve the vote-by-mail process to better serve all voters, including military and overseas voters.

The results of these collaborative efforts so far are exciting!  Last year at the EAC’s data summit, FVAP Director Boehmer shared his vision of customer service for the election community.  In addition, EAC and FVAP are working with the Council of State Governments (CSG) to explore content and process improvements s for EAC’s voting survey to ensure higher quality data collection and improve data sharing.

The EAC also participated in an advisory role for the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative with FVAP as part of two major working groups.

  • The technology working group is exploring the areas of performance metrics, data standardization, best practices with processing of UOCAVA ballots and the possibility for acceptance of electronic signatures from the DoD Common Access Card during the registration process. FVAP anticipates recommendations and best practices from this group following the completion of pilots and research done during the 2016 election.
  • The policy working group has developed targeted and actionable proposals that states can easily implement either through administrative or legislative action. When adopted by states and localities, these recommendations will have a hugely positive impact on the absentee voting process for military members, their families and overseas citizens.

At the end of 2015, the EAC and FVAP sent a joint letter to the United States Postal Service Postmaster General to facilitate a dialogue with election officials regarding the challenges surrounding postal voting and to stress the level of importance tied to the timely handling and processing of absentee ballots.  This outreach resulted in the creation of votebymail.gov - a one-stop shop of information for election officials to help ensure that ballots are received and returned on time to be counted.

Most recently, EAC hosted a "webisode" that FVAP, the Military Postal Service Agency, USPS and election mail experts from across the country participated in to provide best practices for election offices using vote-by-mail ballots.

We will continue our collaborative efforts and build upon lessons learned.  Both EAC and FVAP agree that the greatest ideas come from working together – with election officials – to best serve them and the voters we serve.  We look forward to the opportunities and accomplishments that surely are ahead.

 

 
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