WASHINGTON - The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) consortium is the winner of the Military Heroes Initiative grant competition, sponsored by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The $500,000 grant will help advance efforts to improve voting technology and processes for military service members disabled in combat operations.
"ITIF welcomes the opportunity to pioneer new research that will help ensure that the brave men and women injured in our military are able to exercise their right to vote," said Daniel Castro, ITIF senior analyst. “This research will ultimately help increase voting accessibility for the approximately 50 million Americans with disabilities."
EAC is an independent commission created by the Help America Vote Act. Under the terms of grant, ITIF will partner with Georgia Tech Research Institute, a leading research organization with extensive experience working with military institutions and conducting accessibility research, and Operation Bravo Foundation, a pioneer in developing voting alternatives for military and overseas citizens.
ITIF and its partners will undertake a review of current voting access and offer recommendations to improve the voting needs for military personnel with disabilities. The evaluation of current voting practices and emerging technologies to assist with balloting will not only be valuable for military personnel but also for others with disabilities that make it challenging for them to exercise their Constitutional rights. Recommendations will be delivered by early 2012 for potential use in the 2012 federal election.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and, more recently, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, recognized the necessity for improving the voting process for people with disabilities and military personnel. The Military Heroes Initiative will help further these vital goals. Funding from this grant comes from appropriations made available under the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (P.L. 111-8).
Comments on the Grant Announcement
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said, “I'm pleased the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has received this critical funding and plans to work with the Georgia Institute of Technology. Together they will address the technology and processes that have inadvertently made voting inaccessible to many members of our military who have sustained serious disabling injuries in combat operations. Our military men and women, at very least, deserve full and unrestricted participation in the electoral process.”
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said, “Congratulations to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and its partners Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation and Operation Bravo on receiving this grant. I'm pleased these funds will be used to help ensure that injured soldiers who have defended freedom and democracy around the world are able to fully participate in our nation’s democratic process.”
Representative John Lewis (D-GA) said, “The vote is the most powerful, nonviolent tool that our citizens have in a democratic society, and nothing should interfere with the right of every citizen to vote. For our brothers and sisters who are disabled, and particularly our disabled veterans, we must do all within our power to ensure that new voting technology works for them. I am proud that this grant has been awarded to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), in conjunction with the Georgia Institute of Technology, right here in the 5th Congressional District. I am confident that their work will ensure that our disabled voters are able to fully participate in the democratic process.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said, “As Georgia’s Chief Elections Officer, my job is to ensure secure, accessible, and fair elections for every Georgia citizen. This year, we increased voting opportunities for our military men and women by implementing numerous e-government solutions, including our MVP voter education website and by allowing our military to access their ballots online. I look forward to increasing our commitment to Georgia’s military, particularly our injured military members and veterans, by working with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Georgia Institute of Technology to research and implement additional technologies that increase their opportunities to vote.”
EAC Chair Donetta Davidson said, “This grant will provide valuable insight into the voting experience for injured military members. We’ll learn more about the complications these injured service men and women are experiencing as they exercise their right to vote. The practical recommendations from this research will also benefit the millions of civilian voters with disabilities across our nation.”
Gary Smith, Director of Operation Bravo Foundation said, “Operation Bravo Foundation as a pioneer in providing alternative voting solutions for our military and overseas voters is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with ITIF and GTRI in the development of technologies to assist our injured service men and women exercise their right to vote.”
Dr. Brad Fain, Head of Human Systems Engineering Branch at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) said, “GTRI is looking forward to working with our partners in making sure that the voting needs of wounded warriors are identified and met. GTRI is committed to ensuring that all technological barriers that might prevent a wounded soldier from voting are identified and that the appropriate technological solutions are developed to allow every vote to be counted.”
EAC serves as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration. It is charged with administering payments to states and developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and accrediting voting system test laboratories and certifying voting equipment. It is also charged with developing and maintaining a national mail voter registration form.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank at the cutting edge of designing innovation policies and exploring how advances in information technology will create new economic opportunities to improve the quality of life. Non-profit, and non-partisan, ITIF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.