The Election Management Guidelines and Quick Starts Guides were created to assist state and local election officials in effectively managing and administering elections. These guidelines complement the technical standards for the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines for voting equipment. Each chapter of the Election Management Guidelines is vetted by recognized election experts and offers practical discussions of election issues, including examples and helpful tips. View the descriptive flyer discussing Election Management Guidelines here.

See below entire chapters of the Election Management Guidelines, or visit the Resource Library.

EMG Introduction

The EMGs provide a comprehensive set of election resources to assist State and local election officials in effectively managing and administering elections. The nineteen chapters cover a wide spectrum of election administration subjects ranging from procedures conducted prior to an election to post-election management. A few of the topics covered include: absentee voting; voting system management; poll workers; polling places and vote centers; military and overseas voters; office administration; and community outreach. The EMGs are designed to be accessible to election officials at all levels.

Chapter 1: Certification 

EAC is responsible for issuing voluntary voting system standards and testing and certifying voting systems. This chapter reviews the early history of EAC’s Testing and Certification Program, including an overview of the program's Manual and Methodology. Currently, four voting systems and two modifications have been certified through EAC’s Testing and Certification Program.

Chapter 2: System Security

This chapter reviews the factors election officials might consider to enhance voting system security. The discussion includes software security related to installation, monitoring, networking, and transmitting results. It also includes a section about possible policies and procedures for promoting system security among elections office staff, vendor personnel, and the public, as well as tips on password maintenance.

Chapter 3: Physical Security

This chapter references the standards, procedures, and actions election officials might take to protect voting systems and related facilities and equipment from natural and environmental hazards, tampering, vandalism, and theft. This chapter includes sections about conducting a security review, issues with paper ballots, personnel, voting equipment, and peripheral devices. It also highlights potential security concerns at various points during the election process.

Chapter 4: Acceptance Testing

Acceptance testing of voting systems is perhaps the most important function that local election officials conduct in order to ensure the security and accuracy of their elections. This chapter covers acceptance testing for optical scan ballot counters, touch screen voting stations, and end-to-end voting. Additionally, a sample of how to conduct touch screen acceptance testing procedures is provided.

Chapter 5: Ballot Building

Easily understood ballots are important for a successful election. This chapter discusses issues common to all types of ballots (paper-based and electronic) and highlights specific considerations for touch screen ballots, optical scan ballots, and audio ballots. It concludes with information about testing and validating of the ballots before use in an election.

Chapter 6: Pre-Election and Parallel Testing

This chapter reviews pre-election Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing, which is the act of testing every ballot style and every component of the voting system prior to the election. The chapter also includes sections about parallel testing before and during Election Day and post-election testing for election officials to consider. Testing helps to ensure that elections are administered in a fair, accurate, and transparent manner.

Chapter 7: Absentee Voting and Vote by Mail

Ballots are cast by mail in every State. However, the management of absentee voting and vote by mail varies through the nation based on State law. Differences relate to State laws, rules and regulations that control which voters can request a ballot by mail. This chapter provides information including and specific procedures on ballot preparation, mailing, reception, processing, storage, and security.

Chapter 8: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens 

Military and overseas voters face unique challenges in registering to vote, requesting and receiving a blank ballot, and returning their voted ballots. The Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ensures the rights of absent uniformed services and overseas voters to register to vote and to cast absentee ballots for Federal offices. This chapter covers the basics for anyone wishing to understand overseas voting, its challenges along with resources for local election officials. This chapter was published before the MOVE Act was signed into law in October 2009.

Chapter 9: Polling Place and Vote Center Management 

Polling places and vote centers provide locations at which registered voters are able to cast a ballot at an in-person facility. This chapter gives information on locating sites, reviews the recommended guidelines for polling places based on the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, including locating polling places, inspection requirements, and detailed step-by-step suggestions for evaluating potential polling places.

Chapter 10: Developing an Audit Trail 

Election officials can use documentation to prove the accuracy, validity, and integrity of an election. Formal audit trails also are an essential tool for election officials to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of their current policies and procedures. This chapter covers the procedures for developing an audit trail, including the type of documentation necessary, and discusses audit trails for pre- and post-election activities, absentee voting, early voting, polling places, and equipment.

Chapter 11: Contingency Planning and Change Management 

Election officials will need to be able to respond to events that have the ability to disrupt elections in their local jurisdictions. They may do so by developing contingency and change management plans in order to respond to these situations in a timely and effective manner. This chapter provides useful information for identifying, assessing, developing and implementing contingency plans, including related tips and information about organizing response teams and pre- and post-election issues.

Chapter 12: Building Community Partnerships 

Election Day is an event that should involve the entire community to ensure success. This chapter offers information on how election officials can reach out to local, State, regional, and national professional organizations for advice on a variety of election topics including forming partnerships with civic, business, education, and government groups. These contacts can provide assistance and support and can foster an affiliation that reflects the unique needs of local voters.

Chapter 13: Canvassing and Certifying an Election 

The purpose of the canvass is to account for every ballot cast and to ensure that each valid vote is included in the official election results. The canvass enables an election official to resolve discrepancies, correct errors, and take any remedial actions necessary to ensure completeness and accuracy before certifying the election. This chapter explains how an election official creates internal elections office procedures for conducting a successful canvass of votes and a valid certification of results.

Chapter 14: Communicating With the Public 

Elections are in the spotlight more than ever, and voters and candidates receive information on the elections process from multiple outlets. The chapter offers suggestions regarding planning, timelines, and materials that an election official may use to effectively communicate with the public. The strategies presented here have proven successful and an election official may be able to simply tailor them for his or her community.

Chapter 15: Conducting a Recount 

Election officials understand that the voting process does not end on election night. A close contest can be part of an election as it is not uncommon for a handful of votes to determine the outcome of the election. A recount provides an opportunity for an election official to ensure that all the ballots cast are counted accurately and that the correct candidate or ballot issue wins. This chapter gives information on types of recounts according to state requirements, timelines for completion, training for and cost of a recount among other important issues.

Chapter 16: Provisional Ballots 

HAVA establishes a voter’s right to cast a fail-safe, or provisional, ballot in Federal elections. Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons, and many States have created various additional requirements for fail-safe ballots. This chapter discusses how States have developed statewide standards for processing provisional ballots including how standards direct local election officials and/or election boards to count provisional ballots in a uniform manner. This chapter will guide an election official through creating internal elections office procedures for provisional ballots from form design through final certification.

Chapter 17: Technology in Elections 

Voting technology has changed substantially over the years. New voting options provide accessibility, security, and privacy for the voter. This chapter aims to provide information on innovative uses for technology in the elections office and the voting process including tips on managing cost, maintenance, and replacement of technology.

Chapter 18: Elections Office Administration 

The elections office is often the smallest agency in local government until Election Day, when it often becomes the largest. Managing an elections office, however, can be a full-time job with some of the most complex responsibilities expected of a public servant. This chapter aims to help election officials implement the most efficient processes for managing an elections office.

Chapter 19: Accessibility 

Every day, election officials work to make elections more accessible to the public. More than ever before, newly accessible voting machines have facilitated independent voting for voters with disabilities. This chapter also includes information about voting in long-term care facilities with examples of ways to improve accessibility and to incorporate these good practices into all aspects of election administration.

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