First up on day two was a discussion about the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:S1415:). We heard from election officials in Delaware, Washington and West Virginia. Officials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) talked about their responsibilities under the MOVE Act.
Visit our Military and Overseas Voters section to learn more about EAC’s role under the MOVE Act and what we are doing to help these voters, including the Military Heroes Initiative, Pilot Program Guidelines and the most comprehensive research about ballot request and return rates.
The last panel of the day was Journalists and Election Officials: Working Together on Behalf of America’s Voters. Journalists and election officials discussed gathering and reporting results, post-election activities and shared goals. They exchanged practical information about challenges and how to achieve their shared goal of delivering election results to the public. Highlights included:
- Journalists want information fast – correct – but fast
- Election officials’ priority is operational – count the ballots accurately
- Journalists need information about election trends
- Partnerships between journalists and election officials are important
- Pre-election news is about people. How will the process impact voters?
- Putting election information into context can be a challenge
- Reporting can impact voter behavior
- Broadcast journalists need to fill time before unofficial results are announced. They need a continuous stream of information
- Accuracy versus speed are usually the competing priorities for these two groups
- Freedom of the press and voter confidence in elections are most important
- Budgets are shrinking for election officials and journalists
I would also add that election officials should always be up front when there is bad news. It gives you a chance to talk about your contingency plans! For example, if a storm knocks out power at a polling place, talk about how voting continued using flashlights. Negatives can sometimes be positives and provide an opportunity to educate the public.
EAC will continue to host exchanges between journalists and election officials about finding modern and efficient ways to deliver timely and accurate information to voters. For more information read Communicating with the Public, chapter 14 of EAC’s Election Management Guidelines.
Visit the Standards Board meeting page to view all presentations, including ways to improve services for military and overseas voters, the use of COTS in elections and cost savings innovations in elections.
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EAC Standards Board Meeting—Day One
Hello from Oklahoma City! The EAC Standards Board – made up of election officials from every state and U.S. territory – is meeting here Feb. 24 and 25. This morning's big topic was Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) products and how they impact the quality and functionality of voting systems. What does COTS have to do with elections? Examples of COTS components are laptops, touch screens, and flash memory devices, which are used in elections throughout the nation. EAC staff and election officials discussed the pros and cons of COTS and its effect on the life cycle of voting systems. Potential next steps include a COTS Wiki, development of classification schemes for COTS products and issuance of COTS best practices. For more information, watch the webcast of EAC’s recent COTS roundtable.
This afternoon we discussed cost savings in elections. Election officials from D.C., Georgia, Minnesota and Texas shared cost savings initiatives, including:
• Use of technology to reduce phone calls, emails
• Web sites that feature pertinent, frequently requested info & tools like polling place locators
• Online look-ups for voter registration status & absentee ballots status
• Document management systems for ballots to reduce shipping costs
• Webcast trainings
Visit the Standards Board meeting page to view all the day’s presentations, including COTS and cost savings in elections. Tomorrow we’ll discuss military and overseas voting and delivering accurate election information to the public. More to come…