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DOD/OS RIN: 0790-AK90 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Federal Voting Assistance Program 

The FVAP assists overseas service members and other overseas citizens with exercising their voting rights by serving as a critical resource to successfully register to vote.  It requires Federal agencies to enter into Memorandums of Understanding with the DoD to provide accurate, nonpartisan voting information and assistance to ensure military and overseas voters understand their voting rights, how to register and apply for an absentee ballot, and how to return their absentee ballot successfully.

Agency: Department of Defense(DOD)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 32 CFR 233   
Legal Authority: E.O. 12642    10 U.S.C. 1566a    52 U.S.C. 20506    52 U.S.C. ch. 203   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

This rule establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). It establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for the development and implementation of installation voter assistance (IVA) offices as voter registration agencies. This part establishes policy to develop and implement, jointly with States, procedures for persons to apply to register to vote at recruitment offices of the Military Services.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

This rule is proposed under the authorities of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), 52 U.S.C. chapter 203, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, as the Presidential designee under 53 U.S.C. 20301(a). See Executive Order No. 12642, Designation of Secretary of Defense as Presidential Designee, 53 FR 21975 (June 8, 1988) and Executive Order 14019, Promoting Access to Voting.


No Action--If DoD took no action, decreases in successful voting by voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act could occur.

Voters who received assistance from FVAP or Voting Assistance Officers were significantly more likely to submit a ballot than if they did not receive that assistance a consistent finding across the last four General Elections. The impacted public, without coordinated FVAP voter assistance, could experience confusion with the voting registration process, and may endure inefficient FVAP assistance leading up to, and on Election Day. With no purposeful effort to streamline these regulations, there is a dire possibility that absentee voter ballots will not be sent and received in time to be counted. DoD, as the presidential designee agency, pursuant to Executive Order 12642, shoulders the responsibility and desire to resolve known issues, better communicate with the public, and provide a seamless and uniform voting assistance framework for the public populations overseas.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

This amendment of the current policies seeks to establish uniform framework within DoD on how to interact and disseminate communications with the impacted public populations overseas. The changes outlined in this rule improve the transparency and effectiveness of communication to the general public, absent overseas voters, Service member spouse and dependents, and eligible voters who seek to register to vote on Military Service installations. This includes maximizing awareness of voter UOCAVA eligibility, and providing resources to the impacted public populations. These changes will maximize voting assistance effectiveness and outcomes, address known concerns impacting the public, ahead of upcoming election cycles.

While the Department estimates that the public will not incur any costs as a result of this rule, the public may receive better voter assistance since DoD will improve the Government’s coordination to provide voter assistance to absent uniformed service voters and overseas voters and support the government’s efforts to implement a comprehensive program to cover all executive branch agencies and overseas citizens more broadly.


This rule seeks to increase the likelihood of voters protected under UOCAVA and military voting assistance laws to receive and return absentee ballots. It enables FVAP to provide assistance and information to military and overseas American voters in an effective manner based on surveys, research and historical after action reports.

Should FVAP become unable to foster voter awareness through the States and voter assistance programs, the Department of Defense will become less effective to meet military and civilian voter assistance requirements, thus increasing the possible risk of absentee ballot rejections during federal election cycles. This may bring unwanted stakeholder and Congressional scrutiny.

FVAP would cease to provide active engagement mechanisms to elicit input and offer recommendations to improve levels of voter success and effectiveness for State absentee balloting processes for absent overseas uniformed voters and citizens.

Action Date FR Cite
Interim Final Rule  03/06/2020  85 FR 13045   
Interim Final Rule Effective  03/06/2020 
Interim Final Rule Comment Period End  04/06/2020 
Final Action  11/00/2021 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
David Beirne
Department of Defense
Office of the Secretary
48 Mark Center Drive,
Alexandria, VA 22408
Phone:571 372-0740