In accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 1566, our objective was to determine whether:
• voting assistance programs were effective;
• the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps complied with their respective Service’s voting assistance
We also established a self-initiated objective to determine whether DoD Agencies complied with applicable requirements of DoD Instruction (DoDI) 1000.04, “Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP),” September 13, 2012 (as modified by Change 1, effective December 1, 2017). Specifically, we sought to determine whether DoD Agencies complied with the Instruction’s requirement that all DoD Components “develop written voting-related policies to support all eligible uniformed services personnel and their family members, including those in deployed, dispersed, and tenant organizations.”
“The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA [P.L. 99-410])” as modified by the “Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act” (P.L. 111- 84, Title V, Subtitle H) and other provisions, explained that the right to vote was important to uniformed service members, their eligible family members, and other eligible overseas voters. Accordingly, the law established various voting assistance programs intended to help these absentee voters register, vote, and have their vote counted. Section 1566, title 10 United States Code (10 U.S.C. § 1566) defined “voting assistance programs” as “the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) carried out under the ‘Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act’ (UOCAVA) and any similar program.” It required that:
• The “Inspector General of the Department of Defense” report to Congress by March 31 every year on
the effectiveness of voting assistance programs and the level of compliance with the voting assistance
programs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
• The Inspectors General of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps annually review the
compliance and effectiveness of their Service’s voting assistance program, and report the results to the
Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (DoD OIG) in time to be reflected in the DoD OIG’s
March 31 report to Congress.
Although the Service IGs reported that their respective Service’s voting assistance programs were effective, based on the information in their reports we question that conclusion with regard to the Navy and the Air Force. We determined that the Navy and Air Force voting assistance programs were not compliant with 10 U.S.C. § 1566 or DoDI 1000.04, which require at least one trained military member to be appointed as a unit voting assistance officer in every military unit of 25 or more permanently assigned personnel. Additionally, we determined the Navy and Air Force were not compliant because both Services changed their voting assistance program and eliminated unit voting assistance officer positions. Furthermore, we found that only three of nineteen Agencies had written voting related policies, as required by DoDI 1000.04.
We also found that DoDI 1000.04 did not provide sufficient clarity and guidance to the Services and Agencies on the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Specifically, DoDI 1000.04 did not provide sufficient clarity and guidance because:
• the instruction only required “written voting‑related policies” for “uniformed services personnel and
their family members” and
• the instruction did not specify what “written voting-related policies” should contain.
Additionally, we note that the suspense of January 31 of each year for the Military Service Inspectors General to submit their FVAP reports to the DoD OIG, as established by DoDI 1000.04, makes it difficult for the DoD OIG to submit the required report to Congress by March 31.
We recommend that the Federal Voting Assistance Program Director, in coordination with the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness:
• coordinate with the Navy senior service voting representative to bring the Navy voting assistance
program into compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 1566 and DoD Instruction 1000.04, “Federal Voting
Assistance Program (FVAP),” with regard to unit voting assistance officers;
• coordinate with the Air Force senior service voting representative to bring the Air Force voting
assistance program into compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 1566 and DoDI 1000.04 with regard to unit
voting assistance officers;
• clarify or revise DoD Instruction 1000.04 to: ensure that all elements of The Uniformed and Overseas
Citizens Absentee Voting Act population, including all eligible civilian U.S. citizens residing outside the
United States, are included in all provisions of DoDI 1000.04,
- specify what guidance “written voting-related policies” should contain, and
- establish a standardized reporting format for the Service Inspectors General annual voting assistance program reports to the DoD OIG; and
• clarify or revise DoDI 1000.04, Enclosure 4, paragraph 2.n. to require that the Inspectors General of
the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force complete their annual reviews and report the results to
the DoD OIG by December 1 of each year.
Management Comments and Our Response:
The Federal Voting Assistance Program Director concurred with all the recommendations and agreed to facilitate a Services working group to address voting assistance officer responsibilities. He also agreed to include the identified changes in the next iteration of DoDI 1000.04.
We consider the recommendations resolved, but remain open. We will close the recommendations once we verify the satisfactory results of the cited working group and the appropriate changes to DoDI 1000.04.
This report is a result of Project No. D2018-D00SPO-0021.000.