More voters are using mail ballots across the country and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need to explore options to increase vote by mail opportunities. Vote by mail is also essential part of the elections process for citizens away from home, such as our military and overseas voters. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and the United States Postal Service (USPS) continue to work together to ensure the entire vote-by-mail process works smoothly and efficiently. Below are COVID-19 specific resources and other resources to help election officials identify procedures, strategies, and policies for ensuring mail ballots get cast and counted, and all election-related materials that help citizens cast these ballots are delivered in a timely manner.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted primary elections, and some election officials are considering increasing vote by mail options for upcoming primaries and the general election. On March 20, 2020, EAC Chairman Ben Hovland moderated a discussion with state and county election officials about factors officials should consider for increased vote by mail. Officials discussed their experiences with vote by mail, and their thoughts about timelines, staffing, facilities, vendors, working with the U.S. Postal Service, and other considerations. 

  • Presentation – Interview 1: Preliminary Planning for Increased Vote By Mail Capacity

 

  • Interview 2: Preliminary Planning for Increased Vote By Mail Capacity

GCC and SCC Resources

(NEW) Vote By Mail 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.

 

USPS Resources

Note: Tell voters to assume one week for USPS delivery! This message should be consistently communicated to voters who use mail ballots.

  • About Election Mail: This provides an overview of election mail, which includes any item mailed to or from authorized elections officials that enables citizens to vote, such as ballot materials, voter registration cards, absentee ballot applications and polling place notifications.
  • Election Mail Kit: Resources for everything election officials need to prepare, design, and send election mail.
  • Election Mail Checklist: Quick steps and links for election officials related to the election mail process.
  • Creating Election Mail: Guidance for election officials on creating a properly designed mailpiece.
  • Service Alerts: Provides information about postal facility service disruptions due to weather-related and other natural disasters or events.

ElectionMail.org: Resolve Mail Ballot Issues Directly and Immediately with USPS

ElectionMail.org is ongoing project of Democracy Works. It was initially launched with funding from a 2015 Democracy Fund Network Grant in conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center. The website is designed to provide election administrators with information about common election mail problems and an easy way to report any problems they encounter.

 

EAC Resources

 

FVAP Resources

 

State and Local Resources

Colorado Secretary of State

  • Mail Ballot Plan (Election Policy Manual, Chapter 4: Mail Ballot Elections)
  • Ballot Processing (Election Policy Manual, Chapter 8: Ballot Processing and Voter Intent)

 

City and County of Denver, Colorado

 

Ohio Secretary of State

 

Please submit additional best practices and other vote-by-mail resources to Nichelle Williams at nwilliams@eac.gov.