Program Exceeds Expectations in Reaching Absentee Voters
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2013 The Federal Voting Assistance Program exceeded congressional expectations in the 2012 election cycle by getting guidance to service members so they could vote by absentee ballot, a senior FVAP official said here yesterday.
David Beirne, acting deputy director of technology programs for FVAP, participated in a “MOVE and the Military” panel discussion at George Washington University during the seventh annual summit of the Overseas Vote Foundation and U.S. Vote Foundation.
MOVE refers to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, designed to help military people serving overseas and citizens who live abroad to vote in U.S. elections.
“The FVAP’s role [as outlined by Congress] in the MOVE Act is very specific in terms of communicating directly to [service members] in the field,” Beirne said. He added that FVAP sent 90-day, 60-day and 30-day email voting notices to troops throughout the election cycle to instruct them on how to request, obtain and track their ballots.
“If there's any one group of voters that's familiar with the FVAP, it's active-duty military,” Beirne said. “Anyone with a ‘dot mil’ email address got one of our emails. That gives us some level of [success in] our outreach and engagement. We not only met, but exceeded, our congressional requirement.”
To get the word out on absentee voting, FVAP delivered some 18 million emails, he said, adding that the FVAP website also lays out the how-to-vote instructions, with links to state voting guidance.
Because 2012 was the first general election for FVAP’s compliance with the MOVE Act, Beirne said, the outcome is similar to “taking an exam.”
“We’re just waiting for the results to come in,” he said. “That is what's going to determine the success we've had.”