WASHINGTON – The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today released its 2006 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) Report, a collection of data from the states about UOCAVA voting. The survey was released at today’s Facilitating the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act conference. The report and other materials from the conference are available at www.eac.gov.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates that states collect data on how many UOCAVA ballots were sent and received, and instructs EAC to collect the data and deliver a report to Congress. EAC is also conducting a survey of UOCAVA voters and compiling a set of case studies. In the next few weeks, EAC will issue a set of best practices based upon the research collected.
Key Findings of the 2006 UOCAVA Survey:
- At least 992,034 UOCAVA ballots were requested
- Slightly more than 330,000 ballots were cast or counted
- More than 70 percent of all UOCAVA ballots reported not counted was because these ballots were returned to local election offices as undeliverable
- 56.3 percent of ballots from domestic military voters were cast or counted; 47.6 percent of ballots from overseas military voters were cast or counted; and 52.6 percent of ballots from overseas citizens were cast or counted
- 26.5 percent of UOCAVA ballots came from domestic military voters; 16.9 percent from overseas military voters; and 19.7 from overseas citizens
- Approximately one-third of the cast or counted ballots were uncategorized by the states
The "cast or counted" category was created because not all states track ballots cast and ballots counted separately.
During the process of collecting the data, it was determined that many states and local jurisdictions did not track the specific data required by HAVA. Low response rates may also be attributed to EAC’s online survey collection instrument, which many states found difficult to use and time-consuming.
Response rates from states and local jurisdictions varied. For instance, of 3,123 possible jurisdictions, 54 percent provided information on the number of domestic military absentee ballots cast or counted, while 62 percent provided information on the number of overseas military absentee ballots cast or counted. Generally, more jurisdictions tracked information on overseas voters than domestic military voters.
The survey also recommends the following steps to improve the voting process for UOCAVA voters:
- Redoubling efforts to collect the HAVA-mandated information
- Increased effort to make sure overseas voters are aware of their voting rights
- Working in partnership with the Department of Defense, the Federal Voting Assistance Program, and the EAC to develop best practices and programs to encourage participation among UOCAVA voters
- Consideration of legal changes and new technologies to overcome barriers faced by UOCAVA voters
- Establishment of a mechanism whereby a military transfer generates a move notice to the local registrar
UOCAVA protects the voting rights of members of the Uniformed Services (active duty), members of the Merchant Marine and their eligible dependents, Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and United States citizens residing outside the U.S. UOCAVA requires states and territories to allow these citizens to register and vote in elections for federal office using absentee procedures. There are approximately 6 million UOCAVA voters, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO).
EAC is an independent bipartisan commission created by HAVA. It is charged with administering payments to states and developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, implementing election administration improvements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, accrediting voting system test laboratories and certifying voting equipment and serving as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration. The four EAC commissioners are Donetta Davidson, chair; Rosemary Rodriguez, vice chair; Caroline Hunter; and Gracia Hillman.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections by developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit www.eac.gov.