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Hicks Named New Election Assistance Commission Chairman

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Silver Spring, Md. – Commissioner Thomas Hicks has been selected to serve as Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a position effective Feb. 24. He will be Chairman for one year and will continue to serve alongside EAC Commissioners Christy McCormick, who now moves to the role of Vice Chair, and Commissioner Matthew Masterson, who served as chairman during the past year. Hicks previously served as Chairman from February 2016 to February 2017.

“I was working on the Hill when the Help America Vote Act was first implemented. I am proud that more than 15 years later, this commission remains a vital resource for state and local election administrators, voters, and stakeholders. I plan to spend the coming year as Chairman strengthening the support we provide to these constituents and working to ensure elections are accessible, secure, and efficient,” Chairman Hicks stated.

Chairman Hicks notes that the following priorities will largely inform the EAC’s work during the coming year: 

ADDRESSING AGING VOTING EQUIPMENT: The vast majority of voting systems purchased using HAVA funds are more than a decade old and election administrators from across the nation are facing concerns that stem from this aging voting equipment. As threats to election security persist and new technologies become available, jurisdictions are looking to shore up existing election systems or purchase new equipment. The EAC will serve as a resource for these officials, providing timely guidance and information that directly responds to their needs.

ENHANCING ELECTION SECURITY: American election officials face real and persistent threats, including both physical security and cybersecurity concerns. The EAC will remain a trusted federal partner in the work to secure voting systems and election facilities, including ongoing efforts to ensure the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to designate election systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure provides a tangible benefit to election administrators.

STRENGTHENING ACCESSIBILITY: It is essential to improve election accessibility for voters with disabilities and Limited English Proficiency voters, as well as military and other Americans voting overseas.

ENACTING VVSG 2.0: The EAC is currently partnering with a diverse working group comprised of representatives from the election community, public sector, private sector and interest groups to develop the next iteration of the election system testing and certification guidelines, the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0. The new guidelines are rooted in 17 core voting system functions and are expected to be ready for commissioners to vote on this year. The VVSG 2.0 will become the highest standard against which voting systems can be commercially tested in the United States.

RECRUITING POLL WORKERS: Poll workers work alongside election officials to help carry out elections and they play a key role in election administration and security. The EAC will continue to encourage all Americans, especially our nation’s young people, to serve their communities by working the polls on Election Day.

Hicks was recommended by House Democratic Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and nominated by President Barack H. Obama. He was confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on December 16, 2014 to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). 

Prior to his appointment with EAC, Commissioner Hicks served as a Senior Elections Counsel and Minority Elections Counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration, a position he held from 2003 to 2014. In this role, Hicks was responsible for issues relating to campaign finance, election reform, contested elections and oversight of both the EAC and Federal Election Commission. His primary responsibility was advising and providing guidance to the committee members and caucus on election issues.

Prior to joining the U.S. House of Representatives, Hicks served as a Senior Lobbyist and Policy Analyst from 2001 to 2003 for Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that empowers citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. Hicks served from 1993 to 2001 in the Clinton Administration as a Special Assistant and Legislative Assistant in the Office of Congressional Relations for the Office of Personnel Management. He served as agency liaison to the United States Congress and the President’s Administration on matters regarding Federal personnel policies and regulations.

Hicks received his J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and his B.A. in Government from Clark University (Worcester, MA). He also studied at the University of London (London, England) and law at the University of Adelaide (Adelaide, Australia).

For more information or to speak with Chairman Hicks, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at [email protected] or 301-563-3951.

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