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Assessment of Voting Assistance Programs for Calendar Year 2012

DODIG-2013-074

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What We Did

Section 1566, title 10, United States Code, (10 U.S.C. § 1566 (c) (3), [2006]) “Voting assistance; compliance assessments; assistance” requires the Department of Defense Inspector General to continually assess voting assistance and to report to Congress at least annually on:  

  • the level of compliance during the preceding calendar year with voting assistance programs of each of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps; and
  • the effectiveness, during the preceding calendar year, of voting assistance programs. 

What We Found

  • We observed that the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps did have functioning Voting Assistance Programs, had persons assigned to appropriate Voting Assistance Program duties, conducted regular oversight of their Voting Assistance Programs, identified deficiencies and areas for improvement, and implemented corrective actions. Therefore, we concur with the Service Inspectors’ General determinations that their respective Service complied with Voting Assistance Program statutes and regulations.
  • We found, however, that the Federal Voting Assistance Office and Military Services had not applied clearly defined voting assistance program goals and metrics to be able to evaluate their program effectiveness. 
  • We noted several issues affecting execution of Voting Assistance Programs, such as potential staffing overlaps, outdated regulations, and accommodation of new technological advances to provide information. 
  • We also found that the Military Services did not define an “installation” for the purpose of providing appropriate voting assistance to Service members through the establishment of an Installation Voting Assistance office.  

What We Recommend

  • That the Military Senior Service Voting Representatives: 
o   periodically assess the means by which Service members request voting assistance as well as the impact of the use of information technology, and revise Service Voting Assistance Officer staffing requirements accordingly; and
o   revise their Voting Assistance Program policies, regulations, staffing requirements, and definition of an installation for the purposes of providing voting assistance.  
  • The DoD Federal Voting Assistance Program Office: 
o   enhance performance goals and performance indicators for annual assessment of voting assistance activities and their effect on Service member voter participation; and
o   provide guidance to the Military Services regarding their measurement of voting assistance program performance goals and indicators.  

Management Comments

The Office of the Adjutant General of the Army; the Office of the Commander, Navy Installations Command; the Secretary of the Air Force Office of the IG; as well as the Office of the Director, Marine and Family Programs Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps concurred with the recommendations. 

The Military Services provided documentation to establish compliance with the recommendations, or provided their plans of action for implementing the recommendations.

The Navy and Air Force stated in their responses to Recommendation 4 that they believed that their current definitions of an “installation” met the recommendation to develop a definition of an “installation for the purposes of providing voting assistance.” The Army and the Marine Corps stated that they would develop a definition of an “installation for the purposes of providing voting assistance.”

The Federal Voting Assistance Program Office stated that while they agreed with Recommendation 3.a.1. and 3.a.2., that the collection of metrics to measure effectiveness can be improved, and they have been working with the Military Services to gather voting assistance program metrics. They also stated that they are currently engaged with a Federally Funded Research and Development Center to help define new metrics and refine those currently collected. 

Our Response 

We found the comments of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to be responsive to the recommendations.

We request that the Office of the Adjutant General of the Army; the Office of the Commander, Navy Installations Command; and the Director of Air Force Services provide their revised Service Voting Assistance Program regulations when published. 

We found the stated intent of the Army and Marine Corps responses to Recommendation 4, to define an “installation for the purposes of providing voting assistance,” to be responsive. However, we found that the responses of the Navy and Air Force regarding their current definitions of an “installation” did not provide an explanation as to why the Navy and Air Force do not have an Installation Voter Assistance office on each installation worldwide, in accordance with “The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009” and DoD Instruction 1000.04, “Federal Voting Assistance Program.” We request that each of the Military Services provide to the DoD IG, their Service’s definition of an installation that specifically applies to the provision of voting assistance, along with its supporting rationale and criteria. 

We found that while the Federal Voting Assistance Program Office has been developing metrics, the focus of those metrics has been to measure activity rather than voting assistance program performance. We request that the Federal Voting Assistance Program Office provide us with copies of voting assistance program performance goals and indicators that enable useful measurement of voting assistance program performance, as well as copies of guidance they provide to the Military Services regarding voting assistance program performance goals and indicators.

This report is a result of Project No. D2013-D00SPO-0053.000.