Defense Department officials late last week announced more than $15 million in grants designed to improve how voter registration forms and absentee ballots are sent to overseas voters, in an effort to solve problems well in advance of the 2012 presidential election.
Bob Carey, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, said officials don’t have any set plans on how many grants they’ll award or exactly what the final projects will look like. The grants are open to state and local election officials, and the parameters call for using new technologies to decrease the delivery time for registration, ballot requests and changes of address.
“We expect a fair number of applications, and a full spectrum of ideas on how to improve the system,” Carey said. “Maybe for some it will be building a better database. Maybe someone can find a way to embed ballots in ‘Angry Birds.'”
Getting ballots to troops overseas in time for them to cast their votes has been a recurring problem for elections officials. State workers note that voters often don’t update their addresses until the last minute, and overseas voters note that in many cases state deadlines for ballot submissions leave them with only a short window to receive and return their ballots.
The goal of the grants is to solve those problems. Carey said he expects money to be awarded later this year, and the new programs to be in place before next year’s presidential primary elections.
For more information, visit the FVAP website.