New online tools offer an alternative to the bulky overseas voting book
WASHINGTON — Military voting officials have unveiled a new slate of online registration and ballot tools as an alternative to the cumbersome voting assistance guide traditionally used to tackle election questions.
Officials from the Federal Voting Assistance Program said the new offerings will not completely replace the annual 324-page guide, and that troops in remote bases with limited Internet access will still need the voter election guides, which contain information on every state’s and territory’s election laws, registration processes and local election offices.
“It’s going to be like TurboTax, but for voting,” said Bob Carey, director of the program. “With the hard copy of the guide, they’re usually out of date within weeks of us printing them. Here we’ll be able to have people enter their name and address and have all the latest information.”
FVAP officials unveiled their new online voter registration tool at www.fvap.gov last week, the start of their summer push to remind troops to get ready for the mid-term elections this fall. The online form will guide troops (or military family members stationed overseas) through each state’s registration process, then provide a printout they can mail in to become registered for elections this fall.
Later this month, the program plans to release online state-by-state absentee write-in ballots, for those who don’t receive mailed ballots in time for August and September primaries or the November elections.
Sixteen states currently allow voters to e-mail their registration or ballots, Carey said, adding that 29 other states or territories allow the documents to be faxed to local elections officials.
E-mailed ballots could increase voting rates among U.S. citizens living overseas, but security experts have voiced concerns about voter fraud.
Despite that debate, Carey said FVAP’s online tools to help navigate the complex forms should make it easier for more troops who wish to vote this year.
“We’ll probably never fully replace the books; that would be a great dream,” he said. “But this should make it easier on the voting assistance officers, and the voters.”
For more information, visit www.fvap.gov.