FVAP Releases Research Note on Data Standardization and the 2020 General Election

FVAP's latest research note uses 2020  transactional data to assess the absentee voting process for military and overseas citizen voters and explores the impact of Congressional reforms enacted in 2009. The results of this study show the importance of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) protections in allowing these voters to successfully complete the voting process in time by leveraging the 45 day period prior to a federal election for receiving an absentee ballot and taking advantage of options for electronically requesting or receiving absentee ballots.


2020 ESB Research Note Highlights for participating jurisdictions:

  • Ballots requested before the 45-day deadline had the highest return rate at 76%, while ballots requested in the two weeks leading up to the election had the lowest return rate at 55%.
  • UOCAVA voters returned their ballots earlier in 2020 compared to the 2018 and 2016 General Elections.
  • UOCAVA voters using the Federal Post Card Application to request absentee ballots had a higher return rate than those requesting ballots with state applications.
  • Absentee UOCAVA ballots transmitted to Active Duty Military by mail were returned at higher rates than those transmitted electronically, while overseas citizen voters showed no difference in ballot return rates regardless of the method used to receive their blank ballot.

Since 2015, FVAP has been working with The Council of State Governments' Overseas Voting Initiative to develop a standardized format that captures transactional-level data about military and overseas voters in ESB Data Standard. For the 2020 General Election, 12 states and 7 jurisdictions reported transactional data, which accounted for about 40% of the total UOCAVA population in the U.S.  FVAP is working to expand its ESB data collection coverage to additional states and jurisdictions in anticipation of the 2022 General Election.

To review the Executive Summary: click here.

To review the full technical research report: click here.


For more information on FVAP or assistance with the absentee voting process, visit FVAP.gov call FVAP at 1-800-438-VOTE or DSN 425-1584 (CONUS)/312-425-1584 (OCONUS), or email vote@fvap.gov. Remember, you also can contact your unit or installation voting assistance officer for assistance during any step of the process. Facebook.com/DoDFVAP; Twitter @FVAP. Additional Information for non-UOCAVA Uniformed service members, their families, and Department of Defense civilians who are currently stationed in the same location as their voting address may visit vote.gov to register to vote and request information from their local election office to vote locally.