Via EPEC Team Newsletter:
Electoral Process Education Corporation (EPEC) is again raising questions about why a higher percentage of Military and Overseas ballots are failing to be counted compared to the general population in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 2023 General Election.
According to the Dept. of Elections data in the Daily Absentee Report (DAL), early voting tallies show that 13,865 voters requested what is known as UOCAVA absentee ballots (Uniformed Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act for federal and state elections), which covers ballots for military, overseas and temporary overseas federal workers who are not able to vote in person.
As of Friday, Nov. 10th, the DAL record shows 7237 absentee ballots had been tabulated, with 243 listed as “provisional” and “unmarked,” and 6230 showing as issued but not returned. The deadline to receive them is three days after a general election (Nov. 7th this year). But due to the Veterans Day observance Friday, the ballots are due the following business day, Monday, Nov. 13, by noon.
If the numbers of ballots not returned holds, that would work out to a failure rate of between 46.1% and 48% (depending on how some of the ballot statuses are counted).
As it found in 2022, and as initially reported in the EPEC Team newsletter, 48% of military ballots were issued but not returned or tabulated, close to twice the failure rate of the general populations’ average of about 25%.
According to EPEC’s Senior Analyst and member of EPEC’s board of directors Rick Naigle, the DAL record shows that 46.1% of all UOCAVA voters’ ballots were not tabulated, but 67.8% of UOCAVA By Mail, voters who have no other option to vote than mail mail, were not tabulated.
By contrast, in 2022, the “By Mail” absentee voting tabulation rate for the general population was 75%. On average, three out of four by-mail were tabulated and tallied; the other 25% were in one of the various “uncounted” statuses in the DAL (Deleted, Unmarked, Issued, Provisional).
Factors likely contributing to lower success rates for Military and Overseas voters might include the following:
- Invalid mailing addresses
- Ineligibility to Vote
- Insufficient lead time (between mailing out and receiving back)
- Difficulty achieving ballot cure due to inability to contact voters in a remote overseas deployment
- Lack of interest or awareness by the citizen voter
On this weekend’s federal observance of Veterans Day and the official Veterans Day holiday Saturday, Nov. 11, EPEC Team is asking other officials why the tabulation rate of military voters is consistently lower than the general population.