South Carolina to Offer Improved Voting Option for Military and Overseas Voters this General Election

 After a successful pilot in Charleston County, South Carolina moves forward with offering a more secure and user-friendly electronic ballot transmission solution for military and overseas voters statewide in November

Tusk Philanthropies (TP) announced today that South Carolina will offer Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voters Act (UOCAVA) voters a more secure and convenient electronic ballot transmission option for those who opt to receive and return their ballots electronically. UOCAVA voters who previously submitted their ballots using postal mail, email, and fax now have the added option to securely submit their votes through Democracy Live’s OmniBallot portal. This is a huge milestone for overseas voters in the State who may have concerns over the security of email or are experiencing mail service disruptions due to the ongoing pandemic. 

South Carolina recently completed a pilot with OmniBallot for UOCAVA voters casting ballots for the House District 115 special election in Charleston County. Feedback from voters was positive with many commenting on how easy the process was and asking if the option will be available in future elections and for voters residing in the U.S. “I am so proud of South Carolina, for making this so easy,” said Patricia Thompson. Paul Hawkins, who cast his ballot from Thailand, commented that the electronic ballot transmission process was “quick, easy and very user friendly.” Susanne Koch wrote that it was “great to see how easier voting is now than it was 4 years ago.” 

South Carolina is offering UOCAVA voters the option of electronic ballot transmission to provide a more user-friendly and secure replacement for email and fax. Electronic ballot transmission is also a more reliable and convenient option for military and overseas voters who are experiencing mail service delays and disruptions as a result of their overseas assignments and COVID-19. Postal disruptions have gotten significantly worse with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, with over 150 countries experiencing ongoing delays and over 50 having suspended all inbound and outbound international mail service. By providing an improved electronic ballot transmission option, South Carolina is ensuring all military and overseas voters, the majority of whom rely on mail to receive and return their ballots, have a safe, secure, and convenient way to vote in the upcoming election. 

“Having a secure and convenient electronic option to vote in the upcoming South Carolina election is a huge milestone for UOCAVA voters,” said Bradley Tusk, CEO and Founder of Tusk Philanthropies. “Military and overseas voters have always struggled to return their ballots in time, and now with a global pandemic, it’s harder than ever. By offering an improved and more secure voting option for its military, South Carolina is making voting for these voters that much easier.”

“South Carolina has always been a leader in taking steps to help military and overseas citizens vote just as easily as if they were still at home,” said Marci Andino, Executive Director of the South Carolina State Election Commission. “This new platform will not only make voting easier for these citizens but also more secure than ever before.”

“For over a decade, Democracy Live has been supporting state and local elections to serve our men and women serving in the military or stationed abroad to be able to vote,” said Bryan Finney, CEO and Founder of Democracy Live. “Democracy Live is proud to support West Virginia’s and South Carolina’s efforts to ensure all voters, no matter where they are living, or serving to vote safely and securely.”

“We look forward to the opportunity to continue exploring the nexus of security and accessibility when it comes to supporting overseas voters -- and domestic voters on a limited scale,” said Forrest Senti, Director of Business and Government Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Center. “The learning from these pilots adds to the definition of what the future of voting may look like, and we look forward to the going process of innovation and discovery.”

The special and General Election pilots are a collaboration between the South Carolina State Election Commission (SEC), Democracy Live, Tusk Philanthropies, and the National Cybersecurity Center. South Carolina will join West Virginia and two counties in Oregon in piloting electronic ballot transmission for the General Election. Ballots for UOCAVA voters will go out on September 18. Electronic ballots must be received by the SEC by 7 p.m. ET on November 3rd.

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