The Election Management Guidelines and Quick Start Guides were created to assist state and local election officials in effectively managing and administering elections. These guidelines complement the technical standards for the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines for voting equipment.
Each Quick Start Guide offers concise and easy-to-read tips on a wide range of timely topics impacting the field of elections.
View the descriptive flyer discussing the Quick Start Guides.
View all Quick Start Guides in the Election Resource Library
View full chapters of the Election Management Guidelines
Quick Start Guide: Absentee Voting and Vote by Mail
Provides information about preparing and mailing absentee ballots. It includes suggestions for keeping a calendar of important dates for voter registration, printing, delivery and mailing ballots to military/overseas and absentee voters. Suggestions are provided on how to determine the number of ballots to print, reviewing outgoing and incoming ballot envelopes, and developing policies and procedures about processing ballots received. Additional tips are provided about tabulations, storage and security of absentee ballots, voter education efforts related to absentee voting and vote-by-mail.
Quick Start Guide: Acceptance Testing
Provides information about acceptance testing, which helps to ensure that newly acquired devices, as well as devices that have left the election official’s control, are functioning properly and configured correctly. The guide includes details about the types of tests performed, how these tests are conducted, and the maintenance of records once they are completed. The Quick Start has a broadly applicable, generic outline for conducting acceptance tests for the most common devices: ballot scanners, touch screen voting stations, and election management systems.
Quick Start Guide: Accessibility
Provides information and suggestions about incorporating accessible accommodations for various physical disabilities into all aspects of administering an election. It includes information about staff and poll worker training, programmatic accommodations, accountability for improving accessibility during election administration and outreach efforts using technology, and long-term care facilities.
Quick Start Guide: Ballot Preparation/Printing and Pre-election Testing
Provides information and steps for preparing and printing ballots including reviewing voting system documentation and procedures for recording the audio ballot, It includes considerations for state laws relating to the order and rotation of candidates’ names as well as headers and font size on the ballot. This guide also provides information about pre-election testing of hardware and developing an internal checklist for an audit trail with suggestions for logic and accuracy testing.
Quick Start Guide: Canvassing and Certifying an Election
Provides information about the purpose of a canvass and methods of accounting for every ballot used during an election. The guide includes suggestions for planning a canvass including distributing tasks and efforts throughout the election cycle, reviewing State and local laws and regulations, developing a timeline, documenting and certifying the election, and developing outreach efforts to the community to provide information about the process.
Quick Start Guide: Central Count Optical Scan Ballots
Provides information about optical scan voting systems and suggestions for administrative practices to consider before implementing a central count optical scan voting system. The guide discusses other considerations about switching to a central count optical scan voting system including voter intent determinations, voter education, blank ballots, over votes and under votes, polling place and central count locations.
Quick Start Guide: Conducting a Recount
Provides information about how Federal, State, and local laws and regulations can differ in the administration of election recounts and contests. The guide includes recommendations regarding the general management of recounts including pre-election planning steps, questions to ask about the process, post-election preparations, and the reporting of outcomes to candidates, media, and other interested parties.
Quick Start Guide: Contingency and Disaster Planning
Provides information about developing policies and procedures for administering an election during a major natural or manmade disaster. The guide discusses assistance at the State and local levels of emergency management, coordination in the event of a shortage of poll workers and/or supplies, and consolidation of polling places. Other topics include technological problems on Election Day and internal operation planning and debriefing sessions following each election.
Quick Start Guide: Developing an Audit Trail
Provides information about developing a formal record or audit trail of certain election components. An audit trail is an essential tool with which administrators can accurately evaluate policies and procedures established to conduct an election. Items such as documenting voting precincts, districts, and voter registration data are the first steps to consider. Tips are provided about developing a master checklist for documentation, validating absentee and early voting paper ballots, and managing supplies, equipment, and deliveries. The guide also covers how to perform a post-election audit.
Quick Start Guide: Elections Office Administration
Provides information about how an election official coordinates an election. The guide includes tips for managing internal procedures such as developing written policies, how to work with key staff members in the months leading up to an election, facilities and equipment management responsibilities, budgeting, training options and the collection of statistical data in all areas of election administration in order to improve elections.
Quick Start Guide: Managing Change in an Election Office
Provides information about dealing with new Federal, State and local election requirements, new technology, budget adjustments, and staffing changes. The guide includes tips about evaluating the need to change existing policies and procedures, developing and implementing a change management plan, and minimizing the impact that change may have on an elections office.
Quick Start Guide: Managing New Voting Systems
Provides information about policies and procedures that election officials might consider when implementing a new voting system. Topics include confirming delivery of equipment and supplies, conducting a mock election to evaluate performance, providing community outreach to increase public awareness of new equipment, training poll workers, programming the new systems, and providing for the security of equipment within Election Day procedures.
Quick Start Guide: Media and Public Relations
Provides information about managing and distributing accurate and timely information to the public. The discussions include educating and informing candidates and election officials about filing requirements and deadlines. They also detail the creation of media packets with vital election information including an overview of State laws regarding electioneering, a list of polling places, district maps, and precinct information. Tips for building a partnership with the media and developing internal and external communication networks are also provided.
Quick Start Guide: Poll Workers
Provides information and tips about how to reach out and recruit poll workers using technology, the community, and staff. The guide notes that successful recruitment campaigns include using the elections office Web site, posting links to other government agency Web sites, partnerships with local schools and civic organizations, and tasking existing staff with encouraging others to become poll workers. In addition, steps for reviewing your training program and how best to update procedures and information are included.
Quick Start Guide: Polling Places and Vote Centers
Provides information for local election officials about locating and inspecting potential voting sites. The guide also includes tips for notifying voters about new voting locations along with considerations unique to vote centers, including staffing, training, and facility management.
Quick Start Guide: Provisional Ballots
Provides information about Section 302 of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that established the Federal right for a voter to cast a provisional ballot if his or her name is not listed on the registration list or the voter’s eligibility is challenged by an election official. This guide provides information about educating the public, hands-on training for poll workers and staff, the auditing process for provisional ballots, and collecting and using data to improve performance.
Quick Start Guide: Serving Voters in Long-Term Care Facilities
Provides information about helping those voters in long-term care facilities to register and to vote. The guide includes recommendations about developing a voting assistance plan within a long-term care facility with help from State and local election officials. Other topics include the importance of outreach efforts within the community and information about how staffing, volunteers, and the facility can offer residents safeguards to preserve and protect the integrity of the voting process.
Quick Start Guide: Technology in Elections
Provides information about innovative uses for technology such as real-time transfer of State voter registration data, on-line voter registration, Geographical Information System (GIS), Content Management Systems (CMS), using the internet for voter outreach, and ballot options for Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters. Other topics cover voting system certification, costs, and replacement procedures.
Quick Start Guide: Uniformed and Overseas Voters
Provides information and a description of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), suggestions about communicating with these voters, ballot delivery information, confirming residency, and forms and procedures pertaining to Federal elections. The guide includes important things to remember for processing UOCAVA ballots.
Quick Start Guide: Voting System Certification
Provides information about voting system testing and certification done by EAC. The guide lists the responsibilities at the Federal, State, and local levels for conducing acceptance testing that ensures the equipment delivered is identical to the equipment certified from all levels of government and that it meets contractual requirements of the purchase. The guide also provides steps to determine the certification status of a voting system and how to read certification numbers.
Quick Start Guide: Voting System Security
Provides information and tips about voting devices, security related to software, procedures for staff contact, facility storage, transporting voting units, early voting security process, Election Day tabulation, storage, and post-election maintenance of voting equipment. The guide also provides information about password maintenance, staff access, and the physical security of all equipment.