Benjamin Hovland was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on January 2, 2019 to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Commissioner Hovland serves as the Designated Federal Officer for the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC).
Mr. Hovland's 20-year career in elections has been shaped by his commitment to improving election administration and removing barriers to voting. Most recently, he served 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 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 restoring 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. Hovland was part of the team that developed a new voter friendly web portal to help Missourians get registered, update their registration, and find their polling place. He also oversaw the development and implementation of a new voter education program, which alerted Missourians who appeared on the U.S. Postal Services’ national change of address list that they may need to update their voter registration. The program resulted in hundreds of thousands of Missourians registering to vote or updating their registration. He also engaged with Pew Charitable Trust to explore ways to improve voter registration lists, resulting in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which is now utilized by over 20 states to make their voter rolls more accurate and reach out to millions of unregistered Americans.
As an attorney for the Fair Elections Legal Network, Hovland’s energies were focused on protecting Americans’ access to the ballot box. Thanks to his efforts, the court struck down a misleading ballot title that may have led to additional barriers to voter participation in Missouri, keeping it off the ballot. In Florida, he litigated to stop efforts to purge voters from the rolls based on inaccurate data matching in the lead up to the election.
Commissioner Hovland received his B.A. from the University of Central Arkansas and his J.D. from University of Oregon.