This series of documents was created as part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) and Sector Coordinating Council’s (SCC) Joint COVID Working Group. These documents provide guidance for state, local, tribal, and territorial election officials on how to administer and secure election infrastructure in light of the COVID-19 epidemic
Lessons Learned from the 2020 Primaries: This series of documents was created after the 2020 presidential primaries. These documents provide lessons learned and best practices identified by election officials by conducting primary elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EAC thanks the GCC/SCC working group for their feedback on these materials. GCC and SCC materials on absentee and mail voting can be found here.
- Lessons Learned from the 2020 Primary – This document combines the lessons learned documents broken out by topic below. It covers resource allocation, building requirements, preparing for increased absentee or mail ballots, and communicating with the public through public relations and the media.
- In-Person Voting: Resource Allocation – This document provides election officials best practices to consider when allocating resources for in-person voting in November 2020. Topics covered include planning for voters who have COVID, recruiting and training poll workers during a pandemic, estimating in-person turnout, and leveraging existing tools and partnerships.
- In-Person Voting: Voting Location Requirements – This document provides election officials best practices to consider when establishing and designing in-person voting locations in November 2020. Topics covered include selecting new polling locations in settings that allow social distancing and the considerations for voting procedures in these locations, alternative and accessible voting procedures such as drive-thru or curbside voting, the use of PPE, and one time use voting supplies.
- Preparing for Increased Mail or Absentee Ballots – This document provides election officials experiences and lessons learned based on the large increase of mail in or absentee ballots in the primary. Topics covered include working with the Postal Service, storage and processing space, and working with state officials to ensure adequate processing time.
- Recruiting and Training Poll Workers – This document provides election officials best practices to consider when recruiting and training poll workers in 2020. Topics covered include preparing for fewer repeat poll workers, incentivizing service, recruiting from nontraditional groups, and shifting training techniques to allow for social distancing.
- Communicating with the Public: Public Relations and the Media – This document provides election officials best practices to consider when communicating the changes and updates to procedures for the November 2020 elections. Topics covered include working with the press, utilizing social media, providing trusted information in partnership with other officials, and communicating directly with voters.
In-Person Voting Materials
- Assisting Sick, Exposed, Symptomatic and Quarantined Voters – This document seeks to briefly summarize existing guidance on assisting knowingly infected, exposed, symptomatic, and/or quarantined voters and share relevant practices used by election officials during 2020 primary elections. The document complements previous voluntary guidance on in-person voting offered by the Election Infrastructure Subsector’s Government Coordinating Council (GCC) and Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) Joint COVID-19 Working Group. As election laws vary by state, election officials should seek legal guidance before implementing the practices described in this guidance.
- Innovative Practices and New Solutions Guide – This document from the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Subsector Coordinating Council's Joint COVID Working Group, outlines several innovative and successful responses in election administration during COVID-19. It offers tangible shifts in operations for the November election, both as principal and backup options. The document also covers the importance of resilient Election Day operations as last-minute changes are highly likely. Innovative Practices and New Solutions provides key guidance for all levels of election officials to ensure a safe and secure election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Finding Voting Locations and Poll Workers – The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Subsector Coordinating Council’s Joint COVID Working Group developed this resource to provide guidance to election administrators conducting in person voting in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The document outlines challenges election officials may face procuring polling places and poll workers, and how to address them. They also discuss considerations for increased physical and cybersecurity risks associated with in person voting.
- Considerations for Modifying the Scale of In-Person Voting – The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Subsector Coordinating Council’s Joint COVID Working Group developed this resource to provide guidance to election administrators conducting in person voting on a different scale during the coronavirus pandemic. If adjusting in person voting procedures is not available, the resource discusses how election administrators can maintain a footprint similar to what has been previously maintained. Considerations for combining precincts and alternative vote centers are also discussed.
- Health and Safety at the Polling Place – The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Subsector Coordinating Council’s Joint COVID Working Group developed this resource to provide guidance to election administrators regarding health and safety at vote centers during the coronavirus pandemic. The document provides suggestions for protecting poll workers and voters regarding PPE, cleaning and disinfecting, and establishing procedures. Considerations for modifying poll working training, opening polling locations, and returning supplies are included.
- Safeguarding Staff and Work Environment from COVID-19 – The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Subsector Coordinating Council’s Joint COVID Working Group developed this resource for election officials regarding the safety of employees and work environment during the coronavirus pandemic. Establishing new safety measures, making considerations for isolating staff, and regular disinfecting protocols are included. Suggestions for providing personal protective equipment (PPE), and having a plan for exposed employees are also highlighted in the document. Lastly, agency transparency and considerations for cybersecurity regarding remote work are highlighted in the document.
Mail or Absentee Voting Materials
- The Importance of Accurate Voter Data When Expanding Absentee or Mail Ballot Voting – This document provides election officials who are expanding the use of absentee or mail voting with considerations to ensure voter data is accurate. It covers topics such as risks associated with incorrect voter records, operational considerations such as methods for correcting voter registration records, and securing voter registration data.
- Election Education and Outreach for Increased Absentee or Mail Voting – This document contains questions election officials should address when developing education and outreach strategies for increased absentee or mail voting. It covers topics such as different forms of voting, accessible voting, processing and tabulating vote by mail ballots, considering who you are communicating to, ballot design, communication platforms, and more.
- Electronic Ballot Delivery and Marking – Expanding electronic ballot delivery and marking is one option that may be considered by election officials while providing voters ways to cast a ballot privately and independently. This document provides a list of considerations for election officials determining whether the expansion of electronic ballot delivery and marking is appropriate for their jurisdiction.
- Helping Voters to Request a Mail-in Ballot – This document includes questions and answers to help election officials implement expanded vote by mail application processes.
- Managing an Increase in Outbound Ballots – This document includes questions and answers for election officials who are faced with scaling up for mailing ballots. The document primarily focuses on partnerships with procurement offices, designers, envelope and mail ballot print vendors, the US Postal Service (USPS), and mail fulfillment centers.
- Inbound Ballot Process – This document outlines considerations for a typical inbound ballot process in a high-volume mail ballot environment. The inbound ballot process covers everything that takes place from the time ballots are brought back to the counting facility by ballot collection teams or delivered by USPS, until the ballots are permanently sealed in storage containers for the retention period. This includes ballot receiving, ballot verification, ballot preparation, ballot scanning, ballot tabulation, and post-election audits.
- Ballot Drop Box – This document outlines things to know and consider when planning for the use of ballot drop boxes including general considerations, recommendations on closing boxes, and security considerations. A drop box is a secure, locked structure operated by election officials where voters may deliver their ballots from the time they receive them in the mail up to the time polls close on Election Day.
- Signature Verification and Cure Process – This document answers some frequently asked questions about the signature verification and curing process, outlining processes, and addressing security considerations.
This vote by mail/ absentee voting timeline is a joint product of the Government Coordinating Council and the Sector Coordinating Council. This timeline is meant to help state and local officials determine where they are in the process of expanding vote by mail in their state or community, what needs to be done, and what is on the critical path vs. not.
- Vote By Mail/ Absentee Voting Timeline – Excel and PDF – This vote by mail timeline is a joint product of the Government Coordinating Council and the Sector Coordinating Council. This timeline is meant to help state and local officials determine where they are in the process of expanding vote by mail in their state or community, what needs to be done, and what is on the critical path vs. not.
A few things to know about the product:
- The dates are approximations that can’t take into account state laws or rules that dictate certain timeframes.
- This is not specific to full 100% vote by mail. These same tasks are required if you are simply increasing your vote by mail activity.
- The dates work backward from Election Day. This means -90 = 90 days until Election Day.
- The tasks are broken out by category and there will be corresponding FAQ’s created by each category to inform the tasks created in this timeline.