US EAC Releases Planning Guide for Nov. Election
EAC Chair: Contingency Planning More Important than Ever this Year
Expect the Unexpected and Plan Accordingly
WASHINGTON- U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair Rosemary Rodriguez today recommended that election contingency plans reflect the expectation of record turnout at the polls in November.
“Election officials throughout the nation already know the importance of contingency planning, but this year, I encourage them to not rely solely on previous strategies, such as turnout in the last presidential election, but to also factor in a big increase in new voters as well as increased turnout for existing voters,” said Chair Rodriguez. “Planning for a huge voter turnout will be especially important when it comes to making sure there will be enough ballots and supplies on hand.
“The EAC partnered with election officials, who know firsthand how to plan for the unexpected, to produce management materials regarding contingency planning. I urge election officials throughout the nation to review this valuable information developed in conjunction with their peers.”
Under its Election Management Guidelines program, the EAC has issued a chapter on Contingency Planning and Change Management and the Contingency and Disaster Planning Quick Start Guide. The EAC also held a public meeting about contingency planning in July. These resources, including a webcast of the public meeting, are available at www.eac.gov. Some of the steps EAC recommends include:
Create and implement an action plan. Begin by setting a goal, defining its purpose, and specifying objectives.
Do not wait for situations to arise before addressing them. Be proactive and learn to regularly identify and assess contingencies; involve staff, election workers and other stakeholders in this process.
Contact state and local department of emergency preparedness and request copies of existing action plans and information on available resources. These plans and resources can provide the template for developing a specific operational plan as it relates to elections, including pre-election, early voting, Election Day and post-election activities.
Coordinate with all levels of government and utility companies. Establish a designated contact person for each entity.
Contemplate worst case scenarios and develop an action plan for each scenario, including poll worker shortages, phone system crashes, power failures, inclement weather and long lines.
Develop a ballot distribution plan to prevent shortages. Train poll workers to know when to request more ballots, assign regional troubleshooters to support a specified number of polling places and provide each of them with a kit of extra supplies, including ballots.
Notify utility companies about Election Day activities. Request that they limit work in any area that could cause a power outage.
Ensure that vote tabulation systems are backed-up and stored in a secure, fire-proof facility.
Share contingency plans with surrounding jurisdictions, the state and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Involve and inform the media about contingency plans so they will be prepared to immediately inform the public.
Chair Reminds Voters to Be
“I also urge voters to take steps now to get the basics – polling place location and hours of operation, registration status and provisional voting procedures,” said Chair Rodriguez. The Chair recommends that voters take the following steps now:
Verify registration status
Know location of polling place
Know what voting equipment will be used
Find out the provisional voting procedures in your state
Know what identification, if any, is required on Election Day
Know the polling place hours
Registration deadlines and contact information, including phone numbers and Web site addresses for state election offices, is available at www.eac.gov.
The EAC is an independent commission created by the Help America Vote Act. The 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 three EAC commissioners are Rosemary Rodriguez, chair; Donetta Davidson, vice chair; and Gracia Hillman. There is one vacancy on the commission.