My term at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has come to a close. Three years ago when I got the call that the Senate had confirmed the EAC Commissioners and there would finally be a quorum at the EAC, I couldn’t believe it. Now, as I prepare to leave, I am so grateful to all of those who have helped me, pushed me and supported me and the EAC along the way. These last three years have been the most challenging and rewarding of my career.
I have a great deal to be thankful for as I prepare to leave the EAC. First, I’d like to thank former Speaker John Boehner for recommending and trusting me to serve as a commissioner at the EAC. I also thank President Obama for nominating me to serve and the U.S. Senate for my unanimous confirmation.
Many know that my time at the EAC first started when I was a young attorney from Ohio who was hired as a legal intern working for previous commissioners. The EAC team introduced me to the incredible field of elections and forever changed the trajectory of my career. I offer my sincere appreciation to those who came before me at the EAC, who gave me a chance then, and who welcomed me back with open arms following my confirmation as a commissioner.
I am also thankful for my Ohio roots and the frontline election experience I gained when Secretary Husted invited me to return to my home state and serve in the Secretary of State’s office in a number of capacities, including Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Election Director, and Chief Information Officer. In each of those rolls, I had the privilege to learn from some of the best election officials in the nation and to experience first-hand what it takes to run an accessible, secure and efficient election.
The common theme throughout my career is that democracy is best when all of us work together to improve the process for all voters. Whether at the EAC or back home in Ohio, the most successful efforts to improve election administration have always been those that prioritize partnerships. In my time at the EAC we proudly brought that approach to our work and today I celebrate the many achievements it helped us attain, including:
- Strengthening election security by working directly with state and local election officials across the nation, federal partners such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), academic experts and private industry leaders. Our work together to enhance election security and help make DHS’s designation of election systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure opened up important lines of communication and fostered innovative solutions to emerging challenges.
- Creating the next generation of principles and guidelines that will serve as the future foundation for the EAC’s election system testing and certification program. As the Designated Federal Officer for the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, it has been an honor to work with the EAC’s partners at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and our diverse set of stakeholders and partners to develop the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0. These new guidelines are designed to spur innovations that allow local election officials to give voters the best experience possible, and will ensure improved accessibility, security, accuracy and auditability of voting systems. When the EAC’s Standards Board and Board of Advisors meet next month, members will review and provide feedback on the new guidelines. They will then go out for a 90 day public comment period and then be poised for enactment once a quorum of commissioners is restored at the EAC.
- Meeting voters from across the nation and directly engaging with voters who face a variety of challenges at the polls has been a highlight of my career. From speaking with soldiers and their families on military bases throughout the country to participating in important forums with voters championing accessibility for those with disabilities or Limited English Proficiency, I’ve gained new perspective on the importance of creating an election system focused on increasing access to the polls and will carry that awareness with me moving forward.
Of course none of this work would have been possible without the incredible commissioners and staff at the EAC. Their tireless and selfless service has made the commission an invaluable resource to election officials and voters across America. We have accomplished so much in the last three years, and I am proud to have served with each one of you. It has been an honor to work alongside you, learn from you, and laugh with you every day. I thank you for your continued commitment to voters and election officials.
Last but not least, I want to thank the election officials from across the United States with whom I have had the pleasure and joy to work with and learn from throughout my career. You are tireless servants of democracy. With limited resources, the constant pressure of the next election and very little margin for error, you constantly impress me with your professionalism, commitment and service to your voters. So let me say something that you so rarely hear, THANK YOU! Thank you for all that you do to protect our most precious right. One thing I have said everywhere I’ve gone over the last three years is that the best part of this job was getting out of Washington, DC to see all of you. I am grateful and humbled by all that you have done for me, the EAC and the country.
My sincere appreciation for election officials is why I am so thankful to continue my service to our great nation at the Department of Homeland Security as a federal liaison with the election community to improve the security and resilience of the election process. I am excited for this incredible opportunity and look forward to starting this new chapter in election work today.
I leave the EAC with gratitude for all that has been accomplished and for all those who have helped us accomplish it. I reiterate my sincere appreciation to those mentioned above, and I look forward to continuing to serve the election community. Our collective work has never been more important and I know we’re up to the challenge.