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Election Litigation: The United States Election Assistance Commission’s Resources

The United States Election Assistance Commission’s Resources (PDF)

Summary prepared by Margaret S. Williams
Federal Judicial Center

The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 15301–15545 (2010). The EAC has become a clearinghouse for data and information collected pursuant to other legislation, including the following:

  • National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (Motor Voter)
  • Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Voting Accessibility for Elderly and Handicapped Act (VAEHA)

The EAC’s website has two main users in mind: voters and election administrators. This summary focuses on the election administrator information.

I. Resources for Voters

This section of the website is relevant for voters only.

II. Voting System Testing and Certification

This section discusses the process for getting EAC certification. Much of this information is highly technical and of more use for those who administer elections than for those involved in election litigation. The following information is included:

  • Certification processes.
  • Voluntary voting system guidelines.
  • Setting up a quality control program.
  • Where to find testing laboratories for certification.
  • Pilot programs for serving military and overseas voters.
  • State-by-state reports of voting systems.

III. Election Management Resources

This section provides information for election administrators. Included are the following topics, which are discussed in more detail below.

  • Election Official Exchange
  • Election Management Guidelines
  • Quick Start Guides
  • Poll Worker Best Practices
  • Voting Accessibility
  • Designing Polling Place Materials
  • Voter Registration Cancellations

A. Election Official Exchange

The link provides a space where election officials can connect with each other. The page is much like a listserv; one thread is for officials to share what has worked for them and the other is for officials to find information relevant to the issues they face. The listserv is for subscribers only.

B. Election Management Guidelines

These guidelines were created to provide election officials with information to help effectively manage elections. This information is highly specific to the job of an election administrator. The guidelines contain information on the following topics:

  • Certification
  • System Security
  • Physical Security
  • Acceptance Testing
  • Ballot Building
  • Pre-Election and Parallel Testing
  • Absentee Voting and Vote by Mail
  • Uniformed and Overseas Citizens
  • Polling Place and Vote Center Management
  • Developing an Audit Trail
  • Contingency Planning and Change Management

C. Quick Start Guides

One section of the website is dedicated to posting quick start guides for election workers. These guides are designed to provide concise and easy-to-read tips on managing elections. They complement the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines developed by the EAC. The following topics are discussed:

  • Absentee Voting and Vote by Mail
  • Acceptance Testing
  • Accessibility
  • Ballot preparation/Printing and Pre-Election Testing
  • Canvassing and Certifying an Election
  • Central Count Optical Scan Ballots
  • Conducting a Recount
  • Contingency and Disaster Planning
  • Developing an Audit Trail
  • Elections Office Administration
  • Managing Change in an Election Office
  • Managing New Voting Systems
  • Media and Public Relations
  • Poll Workers
  • Polling Places and Vote Centers
  • Provisional Ballots
  • Serving Voters in Long-Term Care Facilities
  • Technology in Elections
  • Uniformed and Overseas Voters
  • Voting System Certification
  • Voting System Security

D. Poll Worker Best Practices

The EAC created guidebooks to help state election officials recruit, train, and retain poll workers. Included in the guidebooks are tips for recruiting college poll workers.

E. Voting Accessibility

Two types of accessibility issues are covered in this section: language barriers and physical disabilities.

For those with language barriers, there is a glossary of election terminology available in six languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. There are also voter guides available in Cherokee, Chinese, Dakota, English, Japanese, Korean, Navajo, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Yupik.

The national mail voter registration form is available in six languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. For those with physical disabilities, the website provides information on best practices for accessibility as well as the laws governing voting access for the disabled.

F. Designing Polling Place Materials

In this section of the website are designs for polling place materials, including ballots for various types of voting machines, as well as best practices. Ballots for the following types of systems are included:

  • Optical scan ballots.
  • Full-face direct-recording electronic (DRE) ballots.
  • Rolling DRE ballots.

The section also includes information from research testing various voting types and best practices.

G. Voter Registration Cancellations

This section of the website helps election officials find the proper address to notify other registration officials when a voter has moved from one location to another.

IV. Payments and Grants

This section discusses federal funds available to states to improve their election administration.

V. Research and Data

This section provides research regarding the administration of elections. Older versions of the reports discussed below are also available on the website, but they are not summarized below. Reports are generally categorized as follows, as discussed in more detail below:

  • Election administration and voting survey.
  • National Voter Registration Act studies.
  • UOCAVA studies.
  • Other reports.

A. Election Administration and Voting Survey

As part of its mission, the EAC collects state-by-state data on the administration of federal elections. In addition to providing access to the reports they generate, they also provide the supporting data. The 2012 version of the survey was posted for public comment.

2010 Election Administration and Voting Survey: A Summary of Key Findings, December 2011. This is the complete report to Congress for the HAVA Commission, including information on registrations (required by the Motor Voter Law), use of overseas ballots (required by UOCAVA), and election day activities (required by HAVA). The report is based on the biennial Election Administration and Voting Survey, completed by the states after each federal election. The report’s data are combined with Census Bureau information regarding the voting age population to provide a picture of voting participation by state.

A Guide to the Election Administration and Voting Survey. This document provides information to the states regarding the data they need to collect with the survey, including deadlines, uses, and purpose.

B. National Voter Registration Act Studies

This is a report to Congress on the effects of the Motor Voter Law since the 2008 election. The report features information regarding how common each method of registration is, along with information showing changes in registration patterns over time. The report also includes information on the number of rejected registrations and their reasons for rejection.

C. UOCAVA Studies

This is a report to Congress on the use of overseas ballots by overseas citizens, including the military. The report features information regarding how many ballots were mailed out, sent back completed, and counted.

D. Other Reports

Other reports are created using subsets of the data discussed above. Included in the other reports are findings based on the following topics:

  • Voting in urban versus rural areas.
  • The impact of free or reduced postage on absentee ballots.
  • The use of alternative voting methods.
  • Voter hotlines.
  • Election crimes.
  • Voter identification practices.
  • First-time voters.
  • Voter information websites.
  • Implementation of state voter registration databases.
  • Poll workers.
  • Ballot design.

VI. National Voter Registration Act

This section is a link to the legislation creating the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.