February 27, 2020
Silver Spring, Md. – Commissioner Benjamin Hovland was recently elected the new Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a position he will hold for one year. Hovland will continue to serve alongside newly-elected EAC Vice Chairman Donald Palmer, and EAC Commissioners Thomas Hicks and Christy McCormick.
“Since joining the EAC, I have had the privilege of visiting with state and local election officials from across the country to learn more about the work they are doing to conduct secure, accurate and efficient elections. This experience gives me great confidence in the dedicated men and women who run our elections,” said Chairman Benjamin Hovland. “As I take on the role of Chairman, I look forward to working with the other commissioners to ensure the EAC does all it can to better serve voters and election officials by being a valuable resource to help improve election administration across the country.”
Chairman Hovland identified the following areas that will inform his priorities for the coming year, including:
- Continued Focus on 2020 Elections – Even though voting has already begun for the 2020 elections the work to ensure those elections are secure, accurate and accessible is an ongoing process. The EAC will to continue to provide and expand resources to help improve election administration through the November 3rd election and beyond.
- Administration of Election Security Grants – The EAC has already started the administration of the $425 million in newly appropriated HAVA funds. The EAC will continue to work with states as they invest these funds to replace aging voting equipment and strengthen the security of election systems.
- Expand and Improve the EAC’s Clearinghouse Function – The EAC is the federal government’s clearinghouse of election administration information and over the next year Chairman Hovland hopes to expand those efforts to provide a wider variety of resources that will help state and local election officials serve voters in their communities. Throughout 2020, the EAC will build on our current efforts to reach our stakeholders with events, reports, and other resources.
- Finalize the New Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) – Chairman Hovland served as the EAC's designated federal official for the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) for the past year, and now as Chairman will help guide the process for final approval of VVSG 2.0. These specifications guide testing and certification for voting machines and are entering the final steps for approval. Chairman Hovland hopes to have the process completed by this fall.
Chairman Hovland is replacing Commissioner Christy McCormick as Chair of the EAC Commissioners.
"It was an honor to serve as Chairwoman of the EAC over the past year. During that time, the EAC supported the administration of $380 million in 2018 HAVA security grants and recently began the process to distribute $425 million in 2020 HAVA grants. We made strides toward approval of the VVSG 2.0 guidelines and secured increased funding to support EAC operations," said previous Chairwoman, Commissioner Christy McCormick, "2020 will be a critical election year and I look forward to continuing to work alongside my fellow commissioners and the EAC team as we work to improve election administration for the coming year and beyond."
About Chairman Hovland
Benjamin Hovland was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on January 2, 2019 to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Chairman Hovland serves as the Designated Federal Officer for the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC).
Mr. Hovland's 20-year career in elections has been shaped by his commitment to improving election administration and removing barriers to voting. Most recently, he served as Acting Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where he was a driving force behind Congress appropriating $380 million in Help America Vote Act funds to enhance election security to the states in 2018. While at the Senate, he focused on the federal government’s role in election administration and campaign finance regulation. He organized several hearings on election security preparations and improving election administration. He was integral to restoring a quorum at the EAC in 2015.
Earlier in his career, as the Deputy General Counsel for the Missouri Secretary of State's office, he focused on legal issues related to the administration of state and federal elections, including recounts, poll worker training, voter registration list maintenance, statewide database matching, voter education resources and ballot initiative litigation. Hovland was part of the team that developed a new voter friendly web portal to help Missourians get registered, update their registration, and find their polling place. He also oversaw the development and implementation of a new voter education program, which alerted Missourians who appeared on the U.S. Postal Services’ national change of address list that they may need to update their voter registration. The program resulted in hundreds of thousands of Missourians registering to vote or updating their registration. He also engaged with the Pew Charitable Trust’s effort exploring ways to improve voter registration lists, resulting in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which is now utilized by over 20 states to make their voter rolls more accurate and reach out to millions of unregistered Americans.
As an attorney for the Fair Elections Legal Network, Hovland’s energies were focused on protecting Americans’ access to the ballot box. Thanks to his efforts, the court struck down a misleading ballot title that may have led to additional barriers to voter participation in Missouri, keeping it off the ballot. In Florida, he litigated to stop efforts to purge voters from the rolls based on inaccurate data matching in the lead up to the election.
Chairman Hovland received his B.A. from the University of Central Arkansas and his J.D. from University of Oregon.
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.