Update: New York Receives Military Voting Grant

State Board of Elections gets Largest Single Federal Award to Date

ALBANY, NY (11/10/2011)(readMedia)-- The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) today announced New York State as a recipient of its Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections (EASE) grants program, receiving the largest single award to date of $2,480,597.60. This grant will be used to upgrade and integrate the various information systems utilized by local boards of elections, the state board of elections and the 40,000 military and overseas voters currently registered to vote in New York and covered under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) of 2009. With the goals of providing greater online access and automation of voter registration tools and absentee ballot systems, New York is committed to making the absentee voting process easier, more intuitive, and more seamless for military and civilian voters overseas while maintaining the integrity of the process.

"The announcement of this award comes during a week when New Yorkers have just exercised their right to vote and are preparing to honor all those who have served in our country's military for Veterans Day. New York is committed to enfranchising eligible military and overseas voters and this money will go a long way toward helping us get absentee ballots out to and back from our voters in a timely fashion. New York had the highest number of downloaded ballots among all states that participated in FVAP's 2010 online ballot delivery system pilot program and we look forward to increasing that number next year. We reached voters in 39 countries last year and this money will help us expand upon those successes," said Co-Executive Director Robert A. Brehm.

"The State and local boards of elections worked very hard last year to get our system up and running. We were able to provide a new and efficient way for our military personnel to vote. More than 80% of the users who responded to our survey rated the system as good or excellent. This grant will enable military and overseas voters from the State of New York to request, receive and track their ballots online," said Co-Executive Director Todd D. Valentine.

Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Director Bob Carey said, "FVAP continuously researches how to improve these absentee ballot acceptance rates. One way to improve the success rates of voted ballots is to research the technology used by the voters. These grants give the States a chance to test technologies to learn what helps military and overseas voters most."

Last May, the Department of Defense announced the availability of $16,400,000 in federal funding to support research to advance the electronic options for military and overseas citizens when voting absentee. DOD has increased the funding level to $20,600,000. All U.S. state, territory, and local governments were eligible to apply for the grants. Other states receiving money in the first round were California, Virginia, Washington, Maryland and Ohio.

New York developed and implemented an online blank absentee ballot delivery system in 2010 as one of the components to comply with the federally-mandated MOVE Act. New York partnered with FVAP to be one of 20 states to participate in their Electronic Voting Support Wizard pilot program. Military members can now access and fill out the appropriate forms to register to vote and request an absentee ballot using these online tools, and if they do not receive their ballot in time, they may use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), for which a full online tool is available. In 2010, there were approximately 65,000 military and overseas voters eligible for absentee ballots in New York State.

The MOVE Act was enacted by Congress in 2009, after a delegation of state secretaries of state reported visiting military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Germany that, everyone they visited with stated a preference for greater e-mail and Internet access to voting. Those same troops stated that email access extended even to remote areas of their theater of operations.