Report | March 31, 2022

Evaluation of Department of Defense Voting Assistance Programs for Calendar Year 2021 (DODIG-2022-079)

Evaluations

Publicly Released: April 1, 2022

Objective

The objective of this evaluation was to report on the effectiveness of voting assistance programs and the extent of compliance with the voting assistance programs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Space Force during calendar year 2021, in accordance with the requirements of section 1566, title 10, United States Code (10 U.S.C § 1566 [2020]), as amended.

Additionally, we determined whether the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Office complied with the requirements of Public Law 116-92, Executive Order 14019, and DoD Instruction 1000.04, with regard to outreach and access efforts for voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

 

Background

Public Law 99-410, “The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act,” as modified by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act and other provisions, establishes voting assistance programs intended to help Service members, family members, and other eligible U.S. citizens overseas register to vote and cast absentee ballots. Another law, 10 U.S.C. § 1566 [2020], requires the DoD Inspector General (IG) to report to Congress by March 31 of each year, and the IGs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force, to annually:

  • review the compliance and effectiveness of their Service’s voting assistance program; and
     
  • report the results to the DoD IG in time to be reflected in the IG’s report to Congress.

In addition, the Secretary of each Military Department, or the Presidential designee, is required to take appropriate actions to inform absent Uniformed Services voters of assistance available, including the:

  • availability of information and voter registration assistance at voting assistance offices (including the official post card form); and
     
  • time, location, and manner in which an absent Uniformed Services voter may use such assistance.

The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness carries out voting assistance through the FVAP Office.

 

Service Voting Assistance Program Reports

The Service IGs annually assess their respective Service’s voting assistance programs in reports. For 2021, the Service IGs reported that the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Space Force voting assistance programs were effective and that the Service programs generally complied with UOCAVA and DoD Instruction 1000.04.

 

Finding

We reviewed the FVAP Office for compliance with Executive Order 14019 and DoD Instruction 1000.04 with regard to outreach and access efforts for voters covered by UOCAVA. The FVAP Office generally provided effective outreach and assistance to eligible voters covered by UOCAVA and their family members, as well as stakeholder agencies, such as the Council of State Governments; the U.S. Postal Service; the Military Postal Service Agency; the Election Assistance Commission; and the Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Justice, State, and Transportation.

The FVAP Office coordinated with the Services, election officials, eligible voters, and Congress to ensure that Service members, their eligible family members, and other overseas citizens were aware of their right to vote and had the tools and resources to exercise that right. Specifically, the FVAP Office met the requirements of Executive Order 14019 with regard to access and performed outreach through multiple actions, as required by DoD Instruction 1000.04. Those actions included the following.

  • Service engagement: The FVAP Office coordinated with Service Voting Assistance Officers and managed a web portal to make voting tools and resources available to eligible voters.
     
  • Election official engagement: The FVAP Office engaged with state and local election officials to ensure the officials’ awareness of their responsibilities under UOCAVA, and to provide them with the information and tools needed to assist voters covered by UOCAVA.
     
  • Direct assistance to eligible voters: The FVAP Office provides a website, a voter call center, and a comprehensive voter assistance guide.
     
  • Research and evaluation: The FVAP Office analyzed post-election surveys and Voting Assistance Officer metrics to identify trends and any obstacles to voting.
     
  • Congressional reporting: The FVAP Office published annual reports summarizing post‑election survey results on the effectiveness, oversight, and compliance of FVAP efforts, and the corresponding assistance provided to eligible voters.
     
  • Stakeholder agency engagement: The FVAP Office coordinated with stakeholder agencies to enhance outreach and access, and ensured a collaborative and efficient effort to support eligible UOCAVA‑covered voters and their eligible family members.

As a result of actions by the FVAP Office and its coordination with stakeholder agencies, eligible voters had the information necessary to participate in the voting process. DoD organizations and leaders also had the necessary tools to ensure access to vote and comply with Federal law and DoD Instruction 1000.04.

This report is a result of Project No. D2022-DEV0PA-0015.000.