FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Memphis, Tenn. – The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) heard from members of the Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Working Group comprised of election officials from across the country with experience administering elections in the aftermath of catastrophic natural and man-made disasters.
The Working Group provided best practices and innovative approaches related to disaster planning and recovery and highlighted the need for the agency to create resources and establish additional avenues of support for election officials and voters impacted by severe disasters. The EAC hosted the inaugural meeting of the Working Group today in Memphis, Tennessee and released a series of interviews filmed by the Commission while touring election offices in Puerto Rico and Bay County, Florida to learn about their disaster recovery efforts.
Natural and man-made disasters have the potential to throw elections into chaos, destroying infrastructure, displacing voters and potentially rendering the impacted system more vulnerable to security threats. Election stabilization and recovery in the aftermath of catastrophic hurricanes, wildfires, floods, terrorist attacks and other disasters has unfortunately become a timely topic for election officials across the country. The consequences of such events have laid bare the need for the EAC to focus additional resources on helping state and local election officials prepare for, and recover from, disasters and helping impacted voters successfully cast a ballot.
“The issue of disaster preparedness and recovery is about more than what to do if a jurisdiction experiences a hurricane or a terrorist attack,” said EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick. “It is about restoring a way of life for devastated communities. In the United States, that has always included fair, accurate, secure and accessible elections.”
Members of the Working Group include:
- Mark Andersen, Supervisor of Elections, Bay County, Florida
- Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana Secretary of State
- Roberto Benítez, Chief Information Officer, Puerto Rico State Elections Commission
- Robert Brehm, Co-Executive Director, New York City Board of Elections
- Caroline Fawkes, Elections Supervisor, U.S. Virgin Islands
- Bob Giles, Director, New Jersey Division of Elections
- Candace Grubbs, Clerk-Recorder & Registrar of Voters, Butte County, California
- Sarah Ball Johnson, City Clerk, Colorado Springs
- Margaret Jurgensen, Election Director, Montgomery County, Maryland
- Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, Orange County, California
- Laurel M. Lee, Florida Secretary of State
- Maria Matthews, Elections Division Director, Florida Department of State
- Scott Nago, Chief Election Officer, Hawaii
- Todd Valentine, Co-Executive Director, New York State Board of Elections
- Michael Winn, Director of Elections, Harris County Clerk's Office
The information presented during the Working Group Session will be used to create resources to help election officials rebuild their systems, and voters cast a ballot, after severe disasters.
“Election officials are some of the most innovative and adaptable leaders our nation has to offer. Since its inception, the EAC has worked with election officials to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing American elections,” said EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick. “The EAC now has an opportunity to use its unique position as a convener to lead the discussion and establish the playbook for how election jurisdictions and voters impacted by these disasters can recover.”
A link to all video interviews released today can be found here. All presentations given by the Working Group members can be found here.
For more information about the Disaster Preparedness & Recovery Working Group or to request an interview, contact Brenda Bowser Soder at 202-897-9285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections by developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit www.eac.gov.