Congress MOVEs to Help Overseas Voters
The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act is probably not high on your radar screen of activities in the U.S. Congress — but it is important to me, for two reasons, aside from the most basic one that it enables broader access for overseas voters.
- The bill avoided partisan politics that usually sidelines any election reform.
- The bill calls for sensible, incremental use of technology, including the Internet, to help voters.
I recommend the excellent National Journal Online article for a more in-depth view behind the scenes, with quotes from some of the organizations that helped identify the problem and its scope, and suggest solutions — such the Pew Center on the States, and Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. The article also has a concise look at the current Congressional activity around technology and election reform – in the area of voter registration. My thanks to Eliza Newlin Carney for this fine reporting.
One response to “Congress MOVEs to Help Overseas Voters”
Thank you for pointing out the relevance of the MOVE Act to election reform and election administration processes – but also – to the voters. Ultimately, it’s about giving US voters who travel, live and serve our country around the world, a better chance at having their overseas absentee ballots counted. In effect, the law governing the overseas and military voting process, “UOCAVA”, has been stagnant for decades – and MOVE now allows process modernization. For the past 5 years, we have worked to apply technology to UOCAVA processes – hence the websites that OVF is known for put forth the first “voter-oriented” Internet-based tools for automating the complex and cumbersome UOCAVA registration and balloting processes. We were honored to see that much of the technology that OVF pioneered in UOCAVA was adopted in the MOVE Act, from online registration assistance, to write-in balloting, to express mail ballot return.
Ms. Carney’s article points out that the successful MOVE model for electoral reform worked – and maybe it can be applied to the country’s overall voter registration problem. But what came before MOVE, to enable MOVE to pass? Real risk-taking and creativity on the part of certain individuals and groups to develop and pilot technologies with the voters and state election officials (development of tools and usability standards), a tremendous investment in research (development of data), and the building of a community of stakeholders (development of dialogue). What MOVE didn’t do was appear in a void – it came into an arena of electoral need that was ripe for reform – the people, the information and the technology which had developed not by accident, but by intent, were all there forming the foundation of what we hope will prove to be a landmark legislative step forward.