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Quick Start Guides

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s 2022 revision of the Quick Start Guides (QSG) series includes 26 guides that summarize and highlight election administration information in the United States. The goal of the QSG series is to provide a collection of helpful tips and practices to assist state and local election officials in effectively managing and administering elections. This series includes updated best practices and new topics to help election officials run efficient elections. The best practices are designed to be practical and applicable to jurisdictions regardless of their size and resources. The suggestions outlined in the QSG series are solely designed to serve as a source of information for election officials and not as requirements by which they must abide. 

Click each link below to go directly to that Quick Start Guide Category. 

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Standard Operating Procedures - This guide outlines the regular procedures of an elections office and provides tips on documenting SOPs and outlines areas that should be included. 

Contingency Planning - Anticipating and planning for emergencies or natural disasters, even if they never materialize, is a valuable exercise for election officials and a necessary supplement to standard operating procedures. This guide summarizes the steps election officials can take to identify and plan for potential contingencies. 

Building Community Partnerships - Engaging the local and elections community can help recruit poll workers, lead to innovation, and ultimately result in better service to voters. This guide summarizes how to establish partnerships, and provides examples of potential partners and the benefits to election officials and voters. 

Media and Public Relations - Communication is always a key part of the elections process. This guide details three steps election officials can take to create a public relations plan to proactively work with the press and communicate with voters and the public. 

Voter Education - Election officials are responsible for providing reliable and accurate election information to voters. This guide covers how to identify important voter education topics and offers tips on clear communications and reaching voters. 

Poll Watchers - Interest in election administration is high and, in states that allow poll watchers, election officials must educate and accommodate observers throughout the elections process. This guide provides an overview of how to ensure transparency and security when poll watchers are present. 

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Developing an Election Calendar - Election calendars are an important tool to ensure tasks are assigned and completed. They can also be shared with the public to foster a greater understanding of the work involved in the elections process. This guide provides tips on creating an effective calendar. 

GIS & Elections - Election officials can leverage Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to increase the efficiency, accuracy, and transparency of elections. This guide outlines several benefits of using GIS in an elections office. 

Ballot Building - This guide summarizes critical steps in the ballot design process. Additionally, it touches on proofing, testing, and contingency planning for ballots. 

Logic & Accuracy Testing - Testing equipment is an important step in making certain it will work accurately. This guide outlines the steps involved in testing vote tabulating equipment from preparation through documenting and publishing test results. 

Making Voting Accessible - All voters should be able to participate in the voting process. This guide outlines general accessibility requirements and provides several tips to help election officials ensure the voting process is accessible for all voters. 

Developing an Audit Trail - The audit trail is essential to the security of an election. This guide provides several steps election officials can take before and after an election to ensure the completeness of the election's audit trail. 

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Curbside Voting - This guide outlines several considerations and best practices to ensure the accessibility, privacy, and security of every curbside voter's ballot. 

Ballot Drop Boxes - Ballot drop boxes offer a convenient method of ballot return. Election officials in jurisdictions that allow drop boxes can use this guide for information on where to locate boxes and how to secure them. 

Voting by Mail - Voting by mail is available in some form in every state. This guide provides tips on mail ballot preparation, receipt, and tabulation. 

Serving Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) Voters - Serving military members, their eligible family members, and U.S. citizens living outside the country presents unique challenges for election officials. This guide outlines several steps election officials can take to effectively communicate with and serve UOCAVA voters.  

Ballot Reconciliation: Early Voting - Jurisdictions that allow voters to mark and cast ballots in person before Election Day must be prepared to reconcile and secure ballots each day early voting is offered. This guide provides tips to prepare for early voting and outlines the steps to include in daily reconciliation.

Ballot Reconciliation: Mailed Ballots - Election officials must be prepared to track every mail ballot sent and returned. This guide covers the mail ballot process from receipt of application through post-election ballot and envelope storage. 

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Developing an Audit Trail: Election Day - Maintaining the Election Day audit trail presents unique challenges. This guide outlines specific considerations for training and procedures for poll workers and staff to maintain the audit trail throughout Election Day. 

Ballot Reconciliation: Election Day - This guide provides tips and strategies for election officials to implement to account for all ballots voted, spoiled, or unused at each Election Day voting location. 

Central Count System - Some jurisdictions may have the option to count ballots cast on Election Day centrally at their elections office. This guide outlines numerous factors election officials should consider regarding counting ballots centrally. 

Election Results Reporting - Reporting clear and accurate election results enhances trust in elections. This guide summarizes tips for creating effective results websites and best practices for results reporting. 

Provisional Ballots - This guide offers sample procedures for effectively administering and processing provisional ballots. 

Canvassing & Certifying an Election - The canvass process is essential to the integrity of every election. This guide outlines important steps election officials should take to ensure a thorough canvass and accurate results. 

Conducting a Recount - Whether triggered automatically, requested by a candidate, or court ordered, election officials can take several steps to prepare for and conduct efficient and transparent recounts. This guide outlines factors election officials should consider from planning through finalizing recount results. 

Post-Election Audits - Post-election audits are an important tool to verify election results. This guide outlines several tips for election officials before, during, and after conducting an audit.