Blogs

Election Technology Training

By:Brian Hancock

An U.S. Election Assistance Commission blog written by EAC Director of Voting System Testing and Certification Brian Hancock about IT Management Training for Election Officials.


U.S. EAC Offers Election Technology Training Course

Mar 02, 2017

Whether they think they are, want to be, or were trained to be, the Election Official of 2017 is also an Information Technology (IT) Manager. IT management requires a unique set of attitudes, knowledge and skills, all of which are necessary to plan, direct and control contemporary elections.  The Election Assistance Commission recognizes this challenge and now has resources available for local election administrators wishing to hone their IT management skills.

After the adoption of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, election officials were forced, in a matter of just a few years, to move from managing voluminous paper poll books, paper voter registration application forms and (often) paper ballots to managing electronic statewide voter registration databases, e-poll books and either DRE or optical scan voting systems with their accompanying computer-based election management and ballot building systems.  The ramifications of the shift from managing paper to managing computer based systems cannot be underestimated. In less than a decade, election administration posed new demands on its practitioners, who were asked to understand and successfully implement increasingly complex technologies. A few election officials with sufficient resources were able to hire skilled computer technicians and engineers to augment their staff. The vast majority, however, were forced to become more dependent upon systems vendors to integrate new technology into their local election environment while trying as best they could to effectively manage this new paradigm.

As part of the EAC’s ongoing efforts to assist election officials in becoming more accomplished IT managers, the EAC and the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University partnered to developed a short training course unofficially titled “Principles of IT for Election Officials.”  The course is team-taught by U.S. EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson, Director of Testing and Certification Brian Hancock and Executive Director of the KSU Center for Election Systems Merle King. There is no cost associated with offering the course beyond that of the attendees getting to the training venue

The overarching goal of the training is to provide election officials with the requisite attitudes and knowledge needed to become more effective election IT managers.  Although many of the IT concepts presented are universal, there are always specific areas of focus and concern in each jurisdiction. The course is modular in design to allow for maximum flexibility. We are able to work with individual states and jurisdictions to mold the class to their specific and unique needs. No two trainings are the same because portions of the course that deal with election technology are also customized to reflect state-specific voting and election systems.

All attendees receive hard copy of the course PowerPoint presentation and a glossary of IT terms, translated into election-relevant language.  A pre- and post-course test is also available for use at the discretion of the sponsoring state or jurisdiction. 

The general outline of the course is:

              I.    Introduction to Information Technology and its application to elections.

             II.    What does it mean to be an IT manager?

             III.   Election technologies in the office, the back office, and the precinct.

             IV.   Security:  Physical, Procedural and Cybersecurity

             V.    Procuring Election IT

             VI.   Ethics, Transparency, Auditing and Election IT

             VII.  Future Trends in Election IT

In 2016, this course was presented to state and local election officials in Virginia and South Carolina.  As an example of the course’s flexibility and unique training materials, the class in South Carolina was small (30 or so people) and took 3 hours for presentation and discussion.  The course in Virginia was given to a huge audience (over 200) for 1.5 hours with a short amount of time for questions. Generally speaking, 1.5 hours is the shortest time needed to do an effective job of communicating the goals of this training course.

We would be glad to work with any and all state election offices to provide this course for their annual election official conference or other gathering of local election officials.  If you are interested in learning more about the course, please contact one of us at:

Chairman Matthew Masterson:  mmasterson@eac.gov

Brian Hancock:  bhancock@eac.gov

Merle King:  mking@kennesaw.edu

 

 
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