An U.S. Election Assistance Commission blog written by EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson

Commissioner Masterson on Contingency Planning for "No Time Out"

Oct 28, 2015

I had teed up a totally different blog post for today before this happened! Of note is this from Fox Sports’ statement regarding the outage:

"…a rare electronics failure caused both the primary and backup generators inside the FOX Sports production compound to lose power. The issue was immediately addressed, although it resulted in the audience missing one at-bat during the time needed to switch to carriage of Major League Baseball’s international feed, powered by a different generator on site."

As I sat and watched this transpire on live television in both horror and amusement my thoughts turned towards election officials and contingency planning, NATURALLY! In elections, you can’t afford to miss one at-bat.  There is no time out.

I had horrifying flashbacks to the 2012 election when I was in Ohio. We were using a new election night reporting system that night.  Though I knew we had contingency plans in place and had planned for high traffic I would be lying if I said it didn’t get dicey for a little bit that night. We managed our way through and had a very successful deployment, but it resulted in a few more gray hairs for sure.

All this highlights why election officials across the country spend so much of their time asking themselves "what could go wrong?" Everything from the testing of voting systems, to training of election workers, to chain of custody procedures attempt to answer that question.  And yet, every election official knows when voters and Mother Nature are involved something they didn’t expect is likely to happen. That is where proper contingency planning comes in. 

At EAC we remain focused on providing resources to state and local election officials for just these times.  We have resources on:

Please check these and our other resources out! And please let us know what else we should be working on by emailing

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