Details matter in elections, and that’s why it is important to thoroughly test voting systems before Election Day, and follow up after the election to make sure all components operated correctly.
EAC just awarded a total of $1.4 million to 12 jurisdictions under the Pre-election Testing and Post-election Audit grant program. Pre-election testing, also called Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing, is the act of evaluating every ballot style and every component of the voting system before the election. Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but it’s necessary to help detect and prevent problems BEFORE they occur on Election Day. The post-election audit is a documented review of all aspects of the conduct of an election from beginning to end.
Voters will be the ultimate benefactors of these grants, and EAC looks forward to collecting best practices and procedures about pre- and post-election activities from the grant winners and sharing them with election officials throughout the nation. The grant winners are:
- California Secretary of State, Sacramento, CA
- Orange County Registrar of Voters, Santa Ana, CA
- County of Humboldt, Eureka, CA
- County of Santa Cruz, CA, Santa Cruz, CA
- Colorado Department of State, Denver, CO
- State of Connecticut, Secretary of the State, Hartford, CT
- Office of the Cook County Clerk, Chicago, IL
- State of Indiana, Secretary of State, Indianapolis, IN
- City of Takoma Park, Takoma Park, MD
- County of Boone, Columbia, MO
- New York State Board of Elections, Albany, NY
- Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Cleveland, OH
Go here for grant amounts and program summaries. To learn more about pre-election and post-election activities, visit our Election Management Guidelines section.
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EAC hosts the national clearinghouse on elections, including voting system reports and data from state and local governments. Voters, election officials and EAC’s test labs rely on this information. Access to these reports and data is critical for EAC’s test labs, allowing them to focus testing on specific areas and address known problems voters and election officials experienced in the field. It also helps detect and prevent problems with voting systems being tested, all of which reduces the time and cost of certifying, fielding, and monitoring voting equipment. Sharing this knowledge and experience also informs other jurisdictions with similar voting equipment of problems and potential workarounds.
It’s been a while since we’ve gotten new reports! So please, any local, state or federal government official who has information about their experience operating a voting system, share it with us and the entire community! We would appreciate it, and so would election officials throughout the nation. Just send the report and a request that we post it in the clearinghouse to HAVAinfo@eac.gov. We’ll take care of the rest.
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Election officials increasingly see value in recruiting college students to serve as poll workers, particularly for their flexible schedules and experience using technology. EAC supports student poll worker recruitment through the HAVA College Program grant, and we recently asked our recipients for tips on setting up and managing a student recruitment program. Here’s what they said:
Build a relationship with a political science or public administration professor at a local community or state college. They are likely to have the contacts and interest needed to make the program successful.
Offer to bring voting machines into the classroom to give students a better understanding of how elections work. This makes the training process more interesting and interactive.
Partner with marketing professors to develop a marketing campaign aimed at students.
Hold poll worker trainings on campus or online so more students can easily attend the training.
Make sure all partners are aware of the laws that govern the service of poll workers, such as age, voter registration, and party affiliation requirements.
If local laws permit, consider allowing students to volunteer for part of the day, rather than the full Election Day. More students will be able to volunteer this way.
Spread the number of student volunteers throughout polling places so they can benefit from the expertise of more seasoned poll workers.
These are just a few ideas to consider when running a college poll worker recruitment program. To learn more about the work of EAC College Program grantees, go here.
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Election officials in Orange County, Florida used Second Life to train students to serve as poll workers, preserving quality while saving resources in the process. The program was funded by an EAC College Poll Worker grant.
Orange County developed a virtual space in Second Life, an interactive online world, which takes students through a virtual polling place with registration tables, poll books, voting booths, voting machines and other materials often used in polling places.
Through Second Life and Orange County’s partnership with the University of Central Florida and Valencia Community College, students learned to check-in voters as well as about the different types of ballots used through traditional training materials such as PowerPoint presentations.
Second Life is a unique training tool that addresses several unique challenges. For example, scheduling in-person poll worker training can be tough. And typical online trainings didn’t provide first-time poll workers with a realistic sense of the layout and flow of a polling place. Orange County found that combining the virtual experience of polling place activities with traditional training materials was a good solution.
Central Florida ended up training approximately 450 student poll workers, with about 60 of those through Second Life. They plan to follow up and see how the skills students gained differed depending on the type of training method used.
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Shortly after the 2010 election, EAC hosted a discussion with election officials and voting system manufacturers. All agreed that the election was a success, but that challenges remain. Below are some highlights from the roundtable.
Election administration procedures vary widely, particularly among small jurisdictions; however, federal standards and guidance are helping to address this issue.
Voting system maintenance will become a more important issue as deployed systems near the end of their lifecycles. What is a reasonable expectation of a voting system’s life cycle? Can this be tested?
How will ongoing state and local budget cuts affect the financing of voting system technology and maintenance?
How can election officials safely incorporate commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products into their voting system?
What benefits do testing and certification bring to the life cycle and maintainability of voting systems?
Sharing accurate and thorough information about voting system malfunctions is central to ensuring optimal long-term system performance.
If you’re interested in learning more, view the webcast of the roundtable.
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