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Military and Overseas Citizen Voting Rates Remained Steady Despite Pandemic

By News Team
Published on November 2, 2021

An estimated 47% of active duty military and 8% of U.S. citizens abroad voted in 2020, compared to 46% and 8% in 2016 respectively. These findings and more are part of today’s update of the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) State of the Military Voter (SOTMV) and State of the Overseas Voter (SOTOV) data, examining post-election research from the 2020 General Election.

Part of the U.S. Department of Defense, FVAP administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), which requires states to allow active duty military members, their eligible family, and overseas citizens to vote absentee in federal elections.

UOCAVA voters face unique challenges compared to local voters. FVAP again found the ability to receive and submit an absentee ballot on time can be an obstacle, made more complex in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our research shows the pandemic most notably affected UOCAVA voters' ability to receive direct voting assistance and use international mail,” FVAP director David Beirne said. “We worked closely with partners at the Military Postal Service Agency, the U.S. Postal Service, and the State Department to monitor the situation as it evolved and to share the latest guidance to help make voting for military and overseas citizens as smooth as possible.”

The FVAP State of the Military Voter (SOTMV) and State of the Overseas Voter (SOTOV) data is released after each federal election year. Findings are based on post-election surveys and studies of voter file data.

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