In this interview, the Founder of Overseas Vote, Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, responds to questions about the new Overseas Vote website, it's approach to overseas voting and what U.S. Vote Foundation aims to achieve with this major website makeover.
Interviewer: What makes this new iteration of the Overseas Vote website stand out from its predecessors?
Susan: This version of the Overseas Vote site takes a new approach from all others before it. Now that our full range of voter services tools are on the U.S. Vote Foundation site, we can use Overseas Vote for another purpose. Here it's not just about the number of forms generated.
Instead we’ve created a content-rich, informative website that delves into the key questions surrounding overseas voting. It's something that has never been done in this way before. By anyone. The goal is to convey that overseas voting is not only within reach but also easy and possible for every overseas citizen.
Interviewer: The low participation rate among overseas voters is a significant challenge. How does the new website address this issue?
Susan: Yes, the overseas voter turnout rate is a crucial concern. Despite the advancements in tools and technology, the participation rate has been disappointingly low, with just 4.4% in 2022. We realized it was time for a change.
The tools available on the U.S. Vote Foundation website now empower us to use the Overseas Vote website for a major communication and education initiative with an aim to boost overseas voter turnout. And when I say that, I mean it in a way that's far from boring.
Interviewer: Can you give us an example of how the website addresses unique questions not typically found in FAQs for overseas voters?
Susan: Certainly. One question we tackle is the choice between using a form from the federal government versus a form from the state, both seemingly serving the same purpose. Surprisingly, the answer is a big deal.
The federal form imparts overseas and military voters with special features and protections. Details like this matter for the voter, and our aim is to shed light on these nuances that wouldn’t otherwise be noticed.
Interviewer: The website's design is often the first impression users get. How was the design approached, and what message does it aim to convey?
Susan: The design is intentionally clean and simple, evoking a sense of joy with open skies and a positive tone. We wanted the website to reflect our optimism and enthusiasm for the Overseas Vote program. The content covers various aspects of overseas voting and reaches out to military voters. We aim for users to feel optimistic when navigating, reading, and experiencing the website.
Interviewer: Speaking of optimism, how does the website hope to instill a positive perspective on overseas voting?
Susan: We're not afraid to express our love for overseas voting. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act provides unique features and benefits that our domestic voter counterparts don't enjoy.
Through the website, we hope to convey that overseas voting is an experience to be embraced. It's about dispelling myths, addressing confusion, and ensuring voters have all the information they need.
Interviewer: You've been at this for quite a while, haven't you? Tell us a bit about your journey.
Susan: It's been 20 years of intense, daily immersion in this challenge, and I am grateful for every minute of it. Not to say, it was always pleasant or easy. I'll admit, it's been tough, but it's staying-power that makes a difference. The decision to do one thing well, plus pure tenacity. My motto has been, if one door closes.... find another door! It had to be. We didn't ever have much money, but we always had tenacity and passion.
Please don't get the idea that this is only about me or my work. U.S. Vote Foundation and Overseas Vote have an incredible team of people. They make the difference every day. So many wonderful volunteers. Knowing and working with them is a gift to me and to every one of us, every day.
Interviewer: In conclusion, what's the main takeaway you hope users get from the new Overseas Vote website?
Susan: We want overseas voters to embrace the sense of excitement cast their ballot from abroad in the upcoming election. The website is designed to make it abundantly clear that there's no reason not to.
We're not holding back our enthusiasm or shying away from addressing the issues that have kept people from participating in the franchise. It's time to celebrate and fully engage in the overseas voting experience!