[Image via EAC]
Last week, Matt Masterson became the new Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. On Friday, Chairman Masterson posted a blog entry at the EAC website (with a similar but shorter op-ed in the Hill) that lays out the priorities for the EAC in 2017 and beyond:
Today I was elected Chairman of the Election Assistance Commission. This is an honor and responsibility I do not take lightly. In their respective terms as Chair, both Commissioners McCormick and Hicks propelled the EAC towards fulfilling our mission set forth by HAVA, to better serve election officials and American voters. I hope to build on the momentum they created and push the EAC even further.
In my year as Chairman, much of the EAC’s work will be influenced by two key things. First, the lessons learned and feedback from election officials as a result of the 2016 Presidential Election. The EAC’s #BeReady16 campaign received a great deal of praise from election officials from around the country and I want to build off that success with a new effort, #GamePlan17. The focus of #GamePlan17 will be to provide election officials with tangible planning strategies and information for the 2018 mid-term election and then to help turn those planning strategies into concrete actions to be taken heading into 2018. The goal being to help election officials protect their most valuable resource… time.
Second, the information and data contained in 2016 EAVS survey released in June. The EAVS data represents the most comprehensive set of data regarding election administration. I want to take that information and make it real to election officials. This means working with election officials to understand what the data is telling us and then using it to create tangible resources to support election officials. This could mean everything from best practices based on the data to jurisdiction specific data packets to help election officials educate and inform legislators, county commissioners and voters regarding the work they do and the resources they need.
Already in 2017, three distinct areas have emerged as focus areas for the EAC to provide support on:
- Election Technology – Coming out of the 2016 election, there have been no topics discussed more than the replacing of aging voting technology, cybersecurity techniques and strategies. As part of EAC’s #BeReady16 series, EAC provided a variety of resources in this area including RFP’s for voting technology, guides for maintaining and replacing election technology and checklists for securing election systems. As part of #GamePlan17, EAC will build on those resources by providing longer term planning resources for the procurement of new technology, training information and materials for election officials as IT managers and a more comprehensive suite of information on cybersecurity framework and resources. Additionally, EAC is in the middle of the development of the next version of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG 2.0), with the EAC’s TGDC unanimously passing a new function based scope to the guidelines that will allow for more flexible and innovative systems to be certified. VVSG 2.0 is scheduled to be completed in early 2018.
- DHS Critical Infrastructure Designation – In January the Department of Homeland Security designated Election Systems as critical infrastructure. With that designation came a lot of concerns and questions from the election community regarding the meaning and impact of the designation. Since that decision, EAC has been working to understand the designation, receive questions from election officials and get answers from DHS about those questions. Moving forward, the EAC will continue to work to ensure that election officials are heard and that they get answers to their questions. We will ensure their direct involvement in the development and decision-making process.
- Improving Access – During their Chairmanships both Commissioners McCormick and Hicks emphasized the EAC’s long standing commitment to working to ensure HAVA’s promise of full access to all voters remained a focus for the election community. As Chairman, I will build off that work and continue to work with election officials as they work to ensure all voters can vote freely and independently. That will include continuing the EAC’s already extensive work to develop accessible election technology for voter’s with disabilities. Also, EAC will hold a language access workshop this year that will take the ideas from last year’s Language Summit and turn them into real work products that can be utilized by election jurisdictions, particularly those who have new language access requirements. Also, through the EAVS data and working with our partners at the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and the Council of State Governments EAC will work to ensure military and overseas voters have better information about and access to the voting process.
As I take over as Chairman of the EAC, I have one simple request for the election community and election officials specifically… let us serve you. Tell us what you need, and what concerns you the most as you run elections this year and plan for next year. Share any thoughts, complaints or ideas with us as at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
The election community is very fortunate to have someone with Matt’s skills and experience at the EAC – and I have no doubt he will continue the excellent record of leadership established by his EAC colleagues and predecessors as Chair. This piece suggests that despite what you may hear on Capitol Hill, the EAC plans to stay on the job (and even up its game) providing the assistance to state and local election officials envisioned by the Help America Vote Act.
The to-do list is long (and will include some challenging policy issues – more on that here soon), but I have no doubt Chairman Masterson and his colleagues are up to the task. Stay tuned!