National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI) is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to making sure every American can vote in secure, safe, accessible, and equitable elections by expanding vote-at-home systems in all 50 states. NVAHI works with election officials in optimizing their administration processes and governing laws for both mail ballot and in-person voting methods. NVAHI works to remove legislative and administrative barriers to vote-at-home systems and educate the public on the benefits of voting at home while still preserving the ability to vote in person for those who may want or need it.
State Leads for the National Vote at Home Institute head up implementation programs in key states across the country. They work hand-in-hand with elections officials on the ground to ensure they have the tools they need to make the 2020 election a success.
Saralynn Finn, Communications Specialist
Tony Nguyen, Operations, Pennsylvania
As the nation’s foremost organization on mail ballot use and administration, the National Vote at Home Institute combines deep expertise on research, policy and implementation to offer resources and action plans for election officials, decision makers, and advocacy groups regardless of political affiliation. Our team is made up of former election officials, policy experts, communications specialists, process wonks, and lovers of democracy from across the country.
Phil Keisling has had a long career of public service, including serving as Oregon's secretary of state from 1991-99 and in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1989-91. Phil oversaw Oregon's first-in-the-nation move to full vote at home ballot delivery. He founded the National Vote at Home organization in 2017. Phil recently retired from his position as the director of the Center for Public Service at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
Kristin Strohm is President & CEO of Common Sense Institute (CSI), a non-partisan research organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of the economy. Strohm also serves as Board Chair of the Starboard Group, which she co-founded and is widely regarded as one of the most influential fundraising consulting firms in the West. In 2018, Kristin was honored by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado. She has also been awarded Denver Business Journal's 40 Under 40 Award and the Ally Award from the pro-LGTBQ organization One Colorado in recognition of her advocacy for gay rights among Republicans.
Stephen M. Silberstein founded (in 1978), and served as the first President of, Innovative Interfaces Inc., the world's leading supplier of computer software for the automation of college and city libraries. Steve now devotes his time to philanthropic and civic matters. He serves on the board of the Marin County Employees' Retirement Association and National Popular Vote. Steve is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley with a B.A. in economics and a Master's degree in library science. He has also earned a Master's degree in econometrics from the University of Stockholm in Sweden.
Seth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Democracy Works, a nonprofit improving civic engagement by modernizing the voter experience. He has been recognized as a Draper Richards Kaplan entrepreneur, Ashoka Fellow, and Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation Fellow for his accomplishments as a civic technology leader and social entrepreneur.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Director, Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute. She founded the Center for Retirement Security at Georgetown University where she is a Research Professor. She was Chair of the Task Force that created the Secure Choice legislation in Maryland and now serves on the Board of “ Maryland Saves”, implementing that legislation. She has served with distinction in both the private and public arenas. She was Maryland’s first woman Lt. Governor and served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States. Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a high school graduation requirement.
Brian Renfroe was appointed NALC executive vice president by NALC President Fredric Rolando in December 2016. Renfroe had been elected NALC director of city delivery in 2014 by acclamation during the union’s 69th Biennial Convention in Philadelphia.
Nick is the Managing Director of 2020 Vision Ventures, a civic engagement financing effort dedicated to a more equitable and resilient democracy through innovative and inclusive voter engagement. Nick is keenly interested in furthering initiatives that close the equity gap in civic technology and hold the promise of transformative civic engagement to increase voter turnout, scale equitable best practices and ultimately achieving a civil society that is positively impacted by the realities of the digital age. Core questions driving his work include how do we close the equity gap in civic tech and promote more inclusive civic engagement that increases turnout at the polls while simultaneously improving the lives of low propensity voters too often excluded from our democracy.
Previously, Nick has worked at VICE Media, Planned Parenthood, and has held senior positions in presidential, federal and statewide electoral campaigns. He has held leadership roles in successful issue-advocacy efforts related to pay equity, health care, consumer protections, and climate justice. Nick currently serves on the investment committee for New Media Ventures, the Future Now Fund Kitchen Cabinet, the Center for Civic Design Advisory Committee, the Movement Cooperative's Impact Lab and chairs the Census Digital Organizing Advisory Group. Nick is a 2014 US State Department Int’l Exchange Alumni (Young Turkey/Young America) and has studied political systems and elections in the US, the Middle East, and the UK. He started his career as an Americorps volunteer at a community media center serving nonprofits and local government in rural New England.
CIRCLE OF ADVISORS
It takes a village to run a successful election ecosystem, and we lean heavily on the combined expertise of our highly effective circle of advisors to get the job done.
Joceyln Benson, Michigan Secretary of State
Lori Augino, Elections Director, State of Washington
Michelle Bishop, Voting Rights Specialist, National Disability Rights Network
Dana Chisnell, Co-Executive Director, Center for Civic Design
Amy Cohen, Executive Director, National Association of State Elections Directors
Brian Corley, Supervisor of Elections, Pasco County, FL
Carolyn DeWitt, President & Executive Director, Rock the Vote
Josh Douglas, Professor, University of Kentucky College of Law
Tiana Epps-Johnson, Founder & Executive Director, Center for Technology and Civic Life
Eric Fey, Director of Elections, St. Louis County, MO
Bob Giles, Director, New Jersey Division of Elections
Leslie Hoffman, County Recorder, Yavapai County, AZ
Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State
Paul Gronke, Professor of Political Science, Reed College
Jake Matilsky, Director, Center for Secure and Modern Elections
Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, Orange County, CA
Brad Moorhouse, Operations Manager, K&H Printing
Jennifer Morrell, Consultant, Democracy Fund
Charles Stewart III, Professor of Political Science, MIT
Manny Rouvelas, Partner, K&L Gates
Tammy Patrick, Senior Advisor, Democracy Fund
Dan Pabon, Vice President, Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs
Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies
Elena Nuñez, Director of State Operations, Common Cause
Josh Silver, Founder & Director, Represent Us
VOTE SAFE COALITION
Co-founded by the National Vote at Home Institute & Represent Us, VoteSafe is a cross-partisan coalition of election administrators and organizations that endorses the simple principle that every American has the right to vote safely amidst the pandemic. VoteSafe is committed to ensuring voters have options: expanded access to absentee ballots as well as safe, sanitary, and accessible in-person voting locations. VoteSafe does not support or oppose politicians or parties. Ensuring the safety of all voters as they exercise their constitutional right is not a partisan issue; it is an American issue. We are committed to ensuring that the right to vote safely transcends politics and partisanship.
VoteSafe is co-chaired by Governor Tom Ridge and Governor Jennifer Granholm.
STATES HELPED AND JURISDICTIONS SUPPORTED
In total, the National Vote at Home Institute has helped over 40 states and nearly 10 local jurisdictions servicing over tens of millions of voters. We accomplish this by assessing and recommending election administration policy, supporting election officials in implementing and administering elections and facilitating clear & timely voter education.
Today’s election systems that include in-person voting options, which rely heavily on electronic voting machines present security challenges. In contrast, vote at home primarily relies on paper ballots, which enhances security and leaves a clear paper trail to help ensure the sanctity of election results. Many so-called secure computer systems that we depend on have been breached, and hackers are constantly innovating to expose new vulnerabilities. This ongoing cyber arms race can be won by primarily relying on time-tested paper ballots, counted and audited in a central location, with layers of checks and balances. In a vote-at-home system, envelopes are barcoded to match each individual voter and are sent securely through the U.S. Postal Service. Ballots are not forwarded if voters have moved without updating their registration information. Voter rolls are compared to constantly updated address databases. Envelopes containing ballots are returned with signatures that must be verified against the voter registration file –- after and if the signature is verified, the ballot is extracted from the envelope and the ballot proceeds to the counting process ensuring the secret ballot. These protections greatly reduce the possibility of voter fraud.
Election systems that rely primarily on electronic voting machines in each precinct present security challenges. In contrast, vote at home primarily relies on paper ballots, which leave a clear paper trail and can be counted and audited at a central location with layers of checks and balances. In a vote-at-home system, envelopes are barcoded to match each individual voter and are sent to voters securely through the U.S. Postal Service. Ballots are not forwarded if voters have moved without updating their registration information. Voter rolls are compared to constantly updated address databases. Envelopes containing ballots are returned with signatures that must be verified against the voter registration file. After the signature is verified, the ballot is extracted from the envelope and the ballot proceeds to the counting process, ensuring secrecy. These protections greatly reduce the possibility of voter fraud or security breaches.
Despite extra layers of meticulous security, states and localities with a comprehensive vote-at-home systems spend significantly less because of the reduced need for equipment and poll workers in each precinct. Colorado, which has the nation’s most comprehensive vote-at-home system, showed a savings of more than $6 or 40 percent per voter, according to a study by The Pew Research Center.
Vote at home is designed specifically around voters’ needs. In a vote-at-home system, voters don’t have to take time off work, drive to a polling place or stand in long lines. Voters can spend as long as they want reviewing their ballot at home and researching their options. They don’t need to feel rushed, especially when ballots are long and complex and their lives are increasingly packed with competing demands. Voters with limited mobility or who lack transportation access don’t need to figure out how to get to the polling place.
For those who are unable to vote via paper ballots, a comprehensive vote-at-home system can adapt current best practices used for members of the military and other Americans living overseas. These have proven to be secure and will work well in these limited circumstances.
In a comprehensive vote-at-home system, voters primarily receive their ballots by mail but they can choose how to cast their vote. Voters can return their ballot by mail, take it to a secure drop-off location, or vote at a fully staffed vote center – it’s their choice. Voters who prefer the experience of casting their ballot in person can choose that option. Those with special needs requiring in-person attention, need to replace a lost or damaged ballot, or to update their registration, can go to a staffed vote center.
Vote at home builds on the time-tested absentee voting process and adds more options and extra layers of checks and balances to ensure the integrity of elections and the validity of each ballot. These measures include: (1) Risk-limiting audits, which allow elections officials to double check the vote count. Vote at home's centralized ballot collection facilitates these audits, and (2) tracking services that follow individual ballots as they are processed through the mail system, both outbound to voters and as the ballots are returned.
In a vote-at-home system, every ballot cast goes through a signature verification process. Election officials compare the voter’s signature on the return envelope with the signature on the voter’s registration card.
While both comprehensive vote-at-home systems and absentee voting use the U.S. Postal Service to deliver ballots, there are important differences. In comprehensive vote-at- home states, voters are automatically sent ballots by mail. Voters in these states can then choose if and how to cast their ballot (send it back by mail, take it to a secure drop-off location, or vote at a fully staffed voting center). Traditional “absentee” systems require voters to apply to receive a ballot by mail. State laws vary dramatically, which can make absentee ballots easier or harder to access and to return, depending on the state. See our state map to find out what your state offers.
Vote at home has significant acceptance in red, blue and purple states, with strong advocates from both sides of the aisle. Nearly half of states have provisions allowing certain elections to be conducted entirely by mail and several states allow it for all elections. In 2016, 33 million Americans cast ballots that were mailed to them –- roughly a quarter of all votes that year, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. About 22 million of those votes came via traditional absentee ballots, and another 11 million were cast by voters living in states and counties with some form of vote at home. Since 2000, one quarter of a Billion mailed-out ballots have been cast nationally without significant issues.
After record turnout in the 2020 election, Maryland's State Board of Election officials is working ... to expand ballot drop boxes📮This will help ensure that voters throughout the state have secure, convenient places to return their ballots in years to come🙌 https://wtop.com/maryland/2021/01/state-election-officials-recommend-more-drop-off-boxes-for-ballots-in-2022/