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Living Abroad: A Voting Dilemma

If overseas Americans were counted as a state, it would have a population roughly the size of Louisiana. Almost two-thirds of overseas citizens are eligible to vote. However, in 2020, fewer than 8% of eligible overseas citizens cast their ballot. An additional 40% desired or tried to cast their ballot but were unable to do so.  In comparison, domestic turnout in 2020 was nearly 80%. Domestic citizens are ten times more likely to vote than overseas citizens.

  • 7.8 % In 2020, less than 8% of eligible citizens overseas voted.
  • 100 % 100% of surveyed respondents in Denver, CO stated that they preferred to vote by a mobile device in the future.

Living Abroad: UOCAVA

Even in the most advanced regions of the world, the absentee process is incredibly difficult. Postal delivery is often unreliable, leading to delays in receiving ballots by mail. Voters who receive ballots electronically must have access to a printer to print their voted ballots and hope their ballot returned by mail arrives on time to be counted. Many states permit overseas voters to return ballots electronically, but they must also be able to scan their signed affidavits and rely on insecure email, sacrificing their right to a secret ballot. For voters who live in remote regions of the world, it may be next to impossible for them to cast their ballot. 

Mobile Voting’s Benefits

Mobile voting reduces these barriers and ensures that overseas citizens can easily vote, regardless of where they live. Instead of relying on unreliable mail services, overseas voters can receive, mark, and return their ballot in minutes. A University of Chicago study of West Virginia’s pilot in 2018 found that mobile voting helped increase military and overseas voter turnout by 3-5%. Similarly, in Denver’s pilot in 2019, military and overseas voter turnout nearly doubled. And 100% of survey respondents in Denver stated that they preferred to use mobile voting for all elections in the future. Mobile voting will help remove barriers that prevent millions of overseas voters from casting their ballot.

Joe is an overseas voter who is living abroad in Australia

"It's important to keep my voice heard and to make sure that I'm doing my duty as a citizen and being in Australia here in Sydney, it's much easier to do it through the mobile app and over your phone than it is to do all of the other paperwork."

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Image of Joe, an overseas voter in Australia Image of Joe, an overseas voter in Australia

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Are you an overseas voter who has faced difficulties casting your ballot? Have you participated in a mobile voting pilot? Share your story with us so others hear how mobile voting has helped you!

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