I recently wrote an article for the Washington Post about actions that State and local election officials can take to improve public confidence in elections. Voters want information – they want to know what is going on with the administration of elections so that the process is transparent.
Today, the Council of State Governments is releasing a report from its Overseas Voting Initiative’s Policy Working Group The report titled, "Overseas Voting: Strategies for Engaging Every Voter," that contains policy recommendations for improving the voting experience for U.S. military voters and citizens living abroad.
The recommendations in the report are beneficial for everyone to read, not just election officials in jurisdictions with a large number of UOCAVA voters – overseas citizens, military personnel and their eligible dependents. Most of the recommendations involve improving election processes that affect all voters, not just UOCAVA voters. For example, the recommendations on voter communication cover the following:
- Use plain language.
- Make effective use of election websites and social media platforms.
- Create more user-friendly electronic ballot return envelopes.
- Communicate to voters when the ballot application is accepted.
- Provide information to voters about what is on the ballot.
Most of these activities affect not just UOCAVA voters. All voters benefit when websites and documents are written in plain language and when voters receive direct communication from their local election office about the receipt of ballots or registration documents.
One other recommendation under the heading "Engagement with the U.S. Military Community" is for the establishment of "partnerships between state and local election officials and local military installations." These partnerships are critical for serving the UOCAVA population. One model for such partnerships is Los Angeles County’s Community Voter Outreach Committee (CVOC), which brings together an array of organizations with interests in improving election services. The CVOC ensures that organizations that represent UOCAVA voters, language minority populations, and individuals with disabilities all have a voice at the table and the opportunity to improve the electoral process in Los Angeles County.
The CSG report provides important insights for how American elections can be improved through simple, concrete actions. Take a look!