Who does the MOVE Act apply to? What if a non-FPCA voter wants a ballot emailed to them?
The MOVE Act applies only to FPCA voters using an FPCA form: (1) active duty military, their spouses, and dependents voting from outside their home Texas county; and (2) (non-military) U.S. Citizens voting from an overseas location.
Do I need to keep a separate list of voters who have received balloting materials by email?
Yes. The early voting clerk must note on the early voting by mail roster any ballots emailed to out of county military/overseas voters. We recommend tracking this information using your usual early voting roster method. We suggest that you add a column to your usual early voting roster. This column will enable you to denote that you have emailed balloting materials to the voter, upon their request. This way, it may, depending on the timing of the email ballot request, be clear from your voting roster that you have sent one voter two ballots, but it will also be clear that this is per the MOVE requirements. Please note that such rosters are subject to public disclosure, with the exception of the voters’ email addresses.
How does a voter request that their balloting materials be sent to them via email?
An eligible voter must submit an FPCA with your county requesting their ballot be emailed. The FPCA must be received on or after the effective date of the MOVE Act, October 28, 2009.
What is the deadline to send ballots (by mail or email depending on the voter)?
The MOVE Act requires that ballots be mailed or e-mailed no later than the 45th day before an election with a federal office on the ballot. However, you can send them earlier if your ballots are prepared. Of course, the early voting clerk may receive a timely FPCA up until the 7th day before election day, to which you must promptly respond.
How do I create the ballot to send the voter by email?
Per the MOVE administrative rule, there are a number of ways this can be done. If you have a copy of the ballot in the Adobe .pdf format, which is often provided by the printer for your proofing, you may forward a copy to the voter. If you have a physical copy of the ballot and a scanner, you could scan the ballot and attach a copy of the scanned ballot to the email to the voter. If you have a copy of the ballot in Microsoft Word, you could attach a copy in that format.
Again, following the administrative rule, we recommend that the ballot be submitted to the voter in 8.5 x 11 format if at all possible. The main key is that it must be in a digital format that the average voter will be able to open and print.
What do I need to send the voter by email?
You need to email the voter the following materials:
- List of certified write-in candidates, if applicable;
- Any other materials you send to regular by mail voters; and
- SOS Emailed Ballot Instructions for Voter, which has links to the following:
- Ballot instructions for specific voting method;
- Security envelope template (information about how to print this envelope from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website);
- Carrier envelope template (or signature sheet); and
- Mailing envelope template (information about how to print this envelope from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website);
Where do we obtain the security envelopes and return envelopes to provide to the voters?
NOTE: The postage for the FPCA return envelope is pre-paid (within U.S. postal system, including APO and FPO addresses and U.S. Embassies and Consulates) for use by absentee voters covered under the UOCAVA. Printing the mailing envelope template on plain paper and affixing it to another envelope will not be accepted by the United States Postal Service for purposes of the prepaid postage. Rather, voters will have to pay the postage themselves.
If voters are using a plain return envelope, they should write in bold letters on the bottom left-hand corner, “Official Absentee Balloting Material” and be sure to apply the required postage for their location.
If the size of the ballot and instructional attachments are preventing the voter from receiving the balloting materials, may the email be broken up into multiple emails?
Yes, so long as the emails are all to the address provided on the voter’s FPCA.
Can the voter email back the ballot to make sure it’s received?
No. The MOVE Act specifically requires that the voter return the marked ballot by mail.
However, please note that if the voter is in a hostile fire, imminent danger, or combat zone, they are eligible to return the ballot BY FACSIMILE, under Section 105.001 of the Election Code. This section authorizes the facsimile return of a marked ballot by active duty military voters, their spouses and dependents, so long as the voter is casting their ballot from an area designated for hostile fire pay, imminent danger pay, or one that has been designated as a combat zone by the president of the United States.
We mailed the ballots to the voter two days ago. They are now requesting an email ballot. How long does the voter have to wait before requesting a ballot via email?
There is no waiting period even if their ballots were mailed only days before as long as the email request is made by the legal deadline to request a ballot by mail or email.
How late can a voter request that their ballot be emailed to them for the November general election?
The deadline to request balloting materials via email is up until the seventh day before an election. We note that for voters casting their ballots from outside of the United States, the ballots must be received no later than the fifth day after election day. It is in the voter’s discretion to decide whether they have the means to return the ballot by mail in a timely manner.
What if there is not enough time for a voter to return their ballot by mail?
You may not refuse to send a voter their balloting materials, even if you are fairly certain that they do not have time to return their marked ballot by mail. We note that a voter may choose to return their ballot using expedited delivery (i.e., via FedEx), or that other military expedited procedures may be in place to provide a speedy return.
However, if you have concerns about the timeframe for a voter to return their ballot by mail to meet the applicable deadlines, we urge you to make the voter aware of the timeframe so that they may decide the best way to proceed.
How are the ballots to be stored once they are received?
Each emailed ballot which is received should be paired with the appropriate FPCA and stored securely in a jacket envelope with the FPCA. If the original mail ballot sent to the voter is also received, this ballot should be treated as a ballot not timely returned. Per the administrative rule, if both the emailed ballot and mail ballot are received, the email ballot is the one counted by the early voting ballot board.
How are the ballots processed by the early voting ballot board?
The early voting clerk must present the email ballots with their corresponding jacket envelopes to the early voting ballot board when it reconvenes after the election to process provisional and overseas ballots. The early voting ballot board must wait until the early voting clerk has determined that all overseas ballots have been received in order to reconvene (but must convene no later than the 6th day after election day, or the next business day after that day. Sec. 81.175).
If a voter returned only the original mail ballot which was mailed to them, this ballot should be accepted.
If a voter returned both the original mail ballot which was mailed to them, and also returned the emailed ballot by mail, only the emailed ballot may be counted. In order to count an emailed ballot, the ballot board must compare the voter’s signature as it appears on the carrier envelope and as it appears on the voter’s FPCA. If the signatures could have been written by the same person, the ballot should be accepted.
NOTE: We anticipate that the ballots will not be readable by electronic scanners. The ballots will need to be counted by hand and added to the tally list accordingly, OR they may be duplicated for electronic tabulation.
How can we tell our voters about this program?
You may choose to communicate about this program with your voters in the manner that you deem appropriate. This may include posting information on your website or formulating an informative email which you distribute to your FPCA voters who have provided email addresses. We encourage you to consider ways to best use this program for the advantage of your voters.
Where can military voters find more information about voting during active duty?
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is available to provide additional assistance and information to military and overseas voters. They also have detailed resources available on their website. They are available by phone at: (703) 588-1584 and toll-free at 800-438-VOTE(8683).
Last updated: April 8, 2014