The number of military and overseas voters who have downloaded Federal Post Card Applications from the DoD website is down by more than half compared the 2010 midterm elections, Defense Department officials said. But that’s not necessarily an indication that voter turnout among the military and overseas absentee voter population will be low, officials said. For one thing, the number of troops deployed has decreased, which reduces the number of absentee voters. Other factors are in play as well. In the past, the rate of military voter registration and election participation has been higher than in the general population, noted Matt Boehmer, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
This year, through the end of August, 27,386 FPCAs had been downloaded, according to FVAP data. That’s less than half the 57,197 FPCAs downloaded during the same eight-month period in 2010, the last mid-term election. Mid-term elections generally garner lower voter turnouts than presidential elections. During the same time period leading up to the 2012 presidential election, about 341,000 FPCAs were downloaded.
FPCAs are used to register to vote, as well as to request absentee ballots for that election year. The goal is to make it easier for troops and their spouses living away from their voting jurisdiction either in the U.S. or overseas, and civilians overseas, to vote by absentee ballot.
Over the last few years, states have made strides in changing their own processes to make it easier to vote by absentee ballot, officials said. For example, in 2010, only three states offered online registration tools for absentee voters. Now, 17 states provide this option.