Overseas Voting Initiative Releases Recommendations to Improve Military and Overseas Voting Data Collection

The Council of State Government's (CSG) Overseas Voting Initiative recently published recommendations, as well as a corresponding final report, to improve Section B of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, or EAVS, which tracks military and overseas voter behavior.

CSG, in coordination with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), has focused on improving Section B of the EAVS for the past year and a half. The CSG EAVS Section B Working Group was formed, consisting of 13 state and local election administrators from across the nation. 

"Working with election officials is critical to FVAP's mission of supporting military and overseas citizen voters," FVAP Director David Beirne said. "Our cooperative agreement with CSG has facilitated true collaboration with this dedicated community, especially in the important area of post-election survey data, which will drive greater insight into trends impacting military and overseas voters. Between these improvements and the work with the CSG Technology Working Group's Data Standardization Sub-Group, FVAP is well positioned to apply more actionable data for improving the absentee voting process."

Securing quality election data from the states has been a challenge for decades. The EAC administers EAVS, a federally mandated biennial survey, to collect state-by-state data on the administration of federal elections. A corresponding EAVS report captures data on the ability of civilian, military and overseas citizens to successfully cast a ballot and contains the most comprehensive, nationwide data about election administration in the United States. It is a survey of all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"The EAC is pleased to have participated in the Overseas Voting Initiative's EAVS Section B work effort led by FVAP and CSG in cooperation with some fantastic state and local election officials from all over the country," U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson said. "Our 2015 EAC Data Summit was the catalyst for reassessing the approach to Section B and we hope the work we have done together will carry forward for future EAVS enhancements.

The CSG EAVS Section B Working Group recommendations include:

  • Eliminate redundant survey questions.
  • Improve the understanding of each survey question.
  • Establish greater outreach to states prior to the submission of each biennial survey.

"We're very pleased that through our collaboration with FVAP to create the Overseas Voting Initiative and implement its many projects, we have been able convene such a knowledgeable and dedicated group of election officials to work up solid improvements to the 2016 iteration of Section B of the EAVS and to join with FVAP and the EAC to set a path for future improvements to the survey," said Kamanzi Kalisa, director of CSG's Overseas Voting Initiative.

The CSG EAVS Section B Working Group is part of the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative, which was launched in 2013 in collaboration with FVAP to improve the return rate of overseas absentee ballots from service members and U.S. citizens living abroad.

The report, titled Overseas Voting: Improving Military and Overseas Election Data Collection, is available at www.csg.org/OVI/documents/Improving_Military_and_Overseas_Election_Data_Collection.pdf.

Additional information about the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative can be found at www.csg.org/ovi.


Federal Voting Assistance Program
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is a Department of Defense (DoD) organization that works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so - from anywhere in the world.

FVAP assists voters through partnerships with the Military Services, Department of State, Department of Justice, and election officials from 50 States, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. State and local governments administer U.S. elections, including those for federal offices. FVAP supports State and local election officials by providing absentee voting information, materials, training and guidance.

Voters can contact FVAP's call center at 1-800-438-VOTE (8683), DSN 425-1584 or at vote@fvap.gov. Toll-free phone numbers from 67 countries are listed at FVAP.gov. Find FVAP on Facebook at facebook.com/DoDFVAP and follow @FVAP on Twitter.