Benjamin Hovland was confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on January 2, 2019 to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Mr. Hovland currently serves as the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) for the Board of Advisors.
In 2020, Commissioner Hovland served as EAC Chairman and helped lead the agency during an election year with unprecedented challenges. Under his leadership, the EAC administered nearly $825 million in federal grant money to help election officials respond to the pandemic and enhance election security. In addition to distributing critical funding, the EAC strategically pivoted resources to help election officials as they confronted obstacles and made difficult decisions of how to best run their elections.
As EAC Chairman, Mr. Hovland also served as Co-Chair of Election Infrastructure Subsector’s Government Coordinating Council and Chair of the Joint Subsector COVID-19 Working Group to coordinate pandemic response amongst state and local election officials, federal partners, and the private sector. Other innovations under his leadership included the first-ever National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, which led national recruitment efforts to alleviate concerns about a significant shortage in poll workers due to the pandemic.
During Commissioner Hovland’s tenure as Chairman, the EAC also adopted a new version of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Known as VVSG 2.0, this represents the first major overhaul of the standards in 15 years and a major leap forward for future election systems.
Mr. Hovland’s career in elections spans over 20 years and includes service as Acting Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where he was a driving force behind Congress appropriating $380 million in Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds to enhance election security to the states in 2018. While at the Senate, he focused on the federal government’s role in election administration and campaign finance regulation. He organized several hearings on election security preparations and improving election administration. He was integral to pushing for the restoration of a quorum at the EAC in 2015.
Earlier in his career, as the Deputy General Counsel for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, he focused on legal issues related to the administration of state and federal elections, including recounts, poll worker training, voter registration list maintenance, statewide database matching, voter education resources and ballot initiative litigation.