The EAC released its first survey in 2004 under authority granted to the commission by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Section 202 of HAVA requires the EAC to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource for the compilation of information and review of procedures with respect to the administration of Federal elections. Section 202(3) authorizes the EAC to conduct studies and carry out other duties and activities to promote the effective administration of Federal elections.
HAVA mandates that the Commission collect information related to the processes and procedures used to register voters and to serve uniformed and overseas citizens wishing to vote. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 required the Federal Election Commission (and subsequently, the Election Assistance Commission) to report to Congress by June 30 of the year following a Federal election on the impact of the Act on the administration of elections and to include recommendations for improvements in procedures, forms, and other matters affected by the Act.
Section 703 of HAVA mandates that for each regularly scheduled general election for Federal office, the EAC shall collect comprehensive data from the states on all of the ballots sent to military and overseas voters and received back by election administrators. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986 protects the voting rights of members of the uniformed services and U.S. citizens residing outside of the country.
In addition, the EAC uses the Election Administration and Voting Survey to learn more about other timely and important election administration issues, for example, from the use of electronic poll books to the prevalence of voter registration processes being conducted via the Internet.