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National Task Force Unveils Report with Research, Guidance for Planning for Election Emergencies
National Association of Secretaries of State report covers state laws, outreach, training and other contingency planning issues
Posted Date: 2/13/2014

Contact: Catherine Lu, Public Information Officer 
             (702) 486-6982 / 334-7953 

(Carson City, NV; February 13, 2014) – The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections today presented a series of nonpartisan findings designed to bolster the efficient administration of elections during emergency situations.

“Many states reported to the tasks force that they can use their existing absentee, mail and early voting processes to facilitate voting when unforeseen emergencies arise,” said Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, immediate past president of NASS and Elections Emergency Planning Task Force member. “We hope that election officials can learn from each other and use the report to help with their proactive emergency and contingency planning efforts.”

The report, entitled "State Laws & Practices for the Emergency Management of Elections," is the result of a nine-month effort to gather and share information on election emergency planning practices and related state laws. It examines state efforts to develop laws and advance planning models that address election authority and continuity, contingency issues, emergency outreach and voting options for displaced citizens, including:

  • Laws that authorize the suspension, delay or postponement of elections in an emergency situation
  • State guidelines for managing polling place changes, as well as polling place power/Internet outages, as well as equipment and poll worker shortages
  • Procedures for securing voting machines and election materials in emergency situations where there are power outages and evacuations
  • Alternative voting procedures designed to enfranchise disaster victims and other displaced individuals during emergency situations, including emergency responders who leave home to assist with relief efforts
  • Communication and coordination efforts with local, state and federal officials

“Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast just days before the 2012 presidential election, heightened awareness about the importance of crafting emergency response plans that ensure minimal disruption to the voting process,” said task force co-chair and Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill. “Task force members learned how state experiences and lessons learned have shaped game plans for effective election administration in the aftermath of a disaster, particularly when it comes to factors such as polling place locations, long lines, balloting procedures, voting deadlines and voter outreach.”

The NASS Task Force on Emergency Planning for Elections includes Secretaries of State and independent chief election officials from 23 states and the District of Columbia.
The task force, convened in March 2013, was formed to identify laws and practices that enhance the ability of state election officials to prepare for, and respond to, emergency situations. For more information, please visit the NASS Task Force on Emergency Planning for Elections web page.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, tasked with researching issues related to contingency planning for natural disasters and other emergencies that may disrupt elections, has recommended consideration of the NASS task force report and recommendations for jurisdictions conducting such work.

Founded in 1904, NASS is the oldest, nonpartisan professional organization of public officials in the U.S. Members include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. NASS serves as a medium for the exchange of information between states and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy. The association has key initiatives in the areas of elections and voting, state business services and digital archiving, international relations and state securities regulation, as well as several well-established awards programs.

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