How our story began...
Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) was originally explored as a short-term, proof-of-concept pilot project called Overseas Vote 2004. The project met with resounding success, after which a core group of independent thinkers came together to establish OVF as a nonpartisan, nonprofit public charity in 2005.
OVF became an established leader in civic technology innovation for overseas voter services and information. The OVF team spearheaded the development of a small suite of comprehensive, integrated online tools that gave overseas citizens exactly what they needed to vote from outside of the U.S., and active-duty uniformed service members what they needed to vote when stationed away from their voting jurisdiction. These included tools to register and request an overseas absentee ballot, find election office address and contact information, and get voting questions answered.
After each general election year, OVF conducted a survey of overseas and military voters. The results of these surveys provided key insights into the needs of these voters, and into the ongoing shortcomings of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
Building a network of people...
OVF also became known for nurturing a network of people who supported the overseas and military voting cause. Each year for nine consecutive years, OVF held a two-day UOCAVA Summit conference, inviting congressional leaders, election officials, secretaries of state, association and advocacy leaders, civic technology, research and cyber experts, and more – to come together, speak to their colleagues, and share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions about overseas and military voting.
The innovative tools on the OVF website allowed voters across the world to more easily participate in the franchise, and their effect, along with OVF’s post-election survey research program and the UOCAVA Summit, served to keep the issues faced by overseas and military voters on the front burner with Congress.
Improvements and reform for overseas and military voting...
Ultimately this focus on UOCAVA voting issues and the strength of the civic technology movement worked together to catalyze Congress to reform UOCAVA. In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act was passed. Among its notable reforms, MOVE mandated that all states offer blank ballots online and have them available to send to voters 45 days prior to the election. These significant changes, among others, afforded overseas and military voters the time they needed to vote and return ballots to their election offices. (See the full list of UOCAVA features and benefits in our “Why Overseas Voting is So Special” FAQ document.)
Transitions and renewal of our mission and site...
After the success of the MOVE Act and the ensuing transformations in overseas voting it sparked, OVF began the process of rebranding, and a new umbrella organization was formed. Overseas Vote Foundation became Overseas Vote, an initiative of its new parent organization, U.S. Vote Foundation. This structure continues today.
Coming into its 20th year, Overseas Vote is re-emphasizing its mission, Every Citizen is a Voter. With the core voting tools, information and services available online, our goal is to extend our outreach to more U.S. citizens than ever, to make sure they know they are eligible to vote wherever they may be in the world, and to provide them with exactly what they need to participate.
The new Overseas Vote website is designed to offer a fresh view of overseas and military voting. We want you to recognize the “amazingness” of the program and services available to U.S. citizens living, working, studying, and traveling abroad, and to uniformed service members who are stationed away from their homes while serving our country.
Wherever you are, you are entitled to vote. As citizens of a free nation, voting is our right and our obligation, and the single best tool we have for respecting and maintaining our democracy.