Election resources for safe elections

Easy, free resources for local election officials to run safe elections.

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This guidance will help you prepare safe, clean environments for employees, poll workers and volunteers, as well as voters and election observers, allowing you to run elections without creating new health risks during COVID-19.

This guidebook is designed to help election officials and workers prepare safe, clean environments for employees, poll workers and volunteers, as well as voters and election observers.

This webinar will help you adjust voting locations based on public health guidelines, plan for a variety of voting location types, and communciate clearly with voters.

The guidance in this document includes engineering and administrative suggestions that can help minimize or mitigate poll worker exposure to COVID-19.

CDC guidance to prevent spread of COVID-19, particularly for poll workers and election officials.

A website designed to help voters find healthy, secure, and safe ways to cast their ballots this year. It includes state-specific voting instructions and health guidelines. You can promote this guide to your voters to help with voter education around public health.

Vendor-specific instructions for cleaning and sanitizing voting machines and other election technology.

A ready-to-use training module including an editable slide deck and script for poll workers on how to keep themselves and voters safe from COVID-19.

A mix of engineering and administrative changes that can help isolate workers from the virus as much as possible and change the way they work to avoid exposure in situations where all risk cannot be eliminated.

CDC best practices for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to COVID-19.

One-page fact sheet for election workers on handling licked envelopes, proper hand washing, and proper social distancing techniques.

CDC recommendations for properly putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE). Includes graphics and video demonstrations.

Graphic poster with instructions for properly putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE). Includes instructions for gowns, masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, and gloves.

A FEMA fact sheet on how to clean and reuse personal protective equipment (PPE), and how to aquire more PPE during shortages.

A webinar with a section on creating a staff backup plan in case an employee gets sick. Also includes sections on leading your team, supporting your colleagues, and partnering with outside groups and your state association.

An Excel spreadsheet template for creating an election staff backup plan.

A list of resources that may be helpful for election officials as they contemplate changes to their election processes in light of the COVID-19 health emergency.

Clearly communicate changes with voters using principles of plain language and design, proactively answering voters’ top questions, and explaining expanded options for casting a ballot.

Guidelines for conducting voter education and outreach for increased mail / absentee voting. Includes voter questions to anticipate, effective methods of communication, and security considerations.

A guide to help election officials think through how to manage expectations of voters, candidates, and election stakeholders for slower election results in 2020.

This document provides election officials with best practices to consider when communicating the changes and updates to procedures for the November 2020 elections. Topics covered include working with the press, utilizing social media, providing trusted information in partnership with other officials, and communicating directly with voters.

Get familiar with terms and concepts related to information operations, identify different forms of misinformation, malinformation, and disinformation and how to respond, and develop resilience with a defensive communications strategy.

An election official’s checklist for combating influence operations.

This guide offers evidence-based strategies for effective rapid response messaging to inoculate voters against misinformation and build confidence in civic processes.

Whether big or small, all Election Offices should have a solid crisis management plan in place to ensure the best possible outcome from unpredictable situations. This vital resource is intended to provide a roadmap for crisis communications and assist you in handling an evolving crisis.

Review what research tells us about how voters look for election information, know how to use social media to build trust with voters year-round, and implement basic design principles to create engaging graphics.

Understand how Facebook tools can support election officials’ outreach, amplify important messages to voters with the new voting alerts, and learn how to apply social media best practices to new tools.

To help your office keep track of the efforts around Facebook, we have developed a checklist of things to remember before you upload a new post, to add simple updates to improve your Facebook page, and a list of advanced options for managing your page.

Identify the top civic information people are looking for online, apply principles of plain language and design to your website, and prioritize digital methods for building trust with your voters.

USDR is offering a simple tool to build or upgrade your local election website. Upgrading takes a matter of hours, not weeks — and your voters will have a new elections website in time for the November 2020 elections.

A free software platform and templates for designing appealing election graphics.

Learn the principles of accessible communication and how they increase public trust, understand how people with disabilities experience information online, and establish actionable guidelines for making your website more accessible.

Ensure all voters can cast a ballot by prioritizing practices like partnerships with local community groups, translating election materials and responding to the needs of voters displaced by the pandemic.

This report summarizes the findings from ethnographic research about the experience of new citizens in civic life in the U.S. conducted in 2019.

This workbook contains resources and tools that will help you deliver language access where and when voters need it.

A variety of resources related to language access for voters. Includes examples from states and local jurisdictions.

This field guide gives an overview of how to use each communications channel effectively. These tips are intended to help you think about how to coordinate election information across many different media.

A kit that provides visuals, sample language, and communications plans designed to help election officials prepare voters to vote safely at home or in person this November.

Evidence-based checklists to help you capture voters’ attention, effectively deliver information, and faciliatate actions.

This workbook contains information and resources that will help you create a voter guide in a format that makes it inviting, useful, and effective.

A template for creating a simple, informative pocket guide for voters. Using this template and some commonly available software programs, you can create a concise, portable document that lays out the most important information needed to vote in your community.

The 10 guidelines in this field guide come from research with young voters and new citizens, trying to find answers in a collection of real brochures. Printed voter education materials range from small tri-fold general information flyers to 20- page booklets with detailed election information.

When instructions on ballots are written in plain language, voters made fewer mistakes and are more likely to vote the way they intended. Here are 10 tips for writing instructions voters will understand.

This field guide covers pointers on how to create forms and surveys that make it easy for people to give you the information you need.

What role does information like nonpartisan voter guides play in helping people prepare to vote or even motivate their participation?

The Streets for Voting Guide is geared towards election officials, voting location facility managers, and local transportation planners and officials. It illuminates physical design and temporary material solutions that better manage access to the voting location, utilizing sidewalks, streets, and other public spaces for queuing, and adding basic comforts for those likely to wait in long lines in all types of weather (seating, shade, cover, and more).

Innovative practices for in-person voting during COVID-19, including "super centers," a ticketing or reservation process, drive-through voting, and more.

Considerations for whether to maintain or reduce the number of voting locations during COVID-19, and how to do either effectively.

Considerations for finding voting locations and poll workers during COVID-19, including challenges, risks, and solutions.

Lessons learned and best practices from the 2020 primary elections for voting location requirements.

Election design guidelines for ballots, polling place signage, and voter instructions.

Ten tips to make clear, easy to find, easy to read signs to help voters move through the polling place process smoothly.

A webinar about estimating mail ballot requests and planning how to shift in-person voting in 2020, along with tools to help allocate resources.

Lessons learned and best practices from the 2020 primary elections for resource allocation.

An easy-to-use system that allows poll workers to hand out tickets to voters waiting in line. Each ticket is printed with a QR code, along with a date and time to return for voting in English and Spanish. As voters return at their designated time, the QR code is scanned, and they proceed to vote.

USDR is providing support to state and local elections offices to internally track poll location wait-times, and then quickly identify and act on any bottlenecks.

A tool for calculating average wait-times based on the number of check-in stations and voting machines, and the average time for checking-in and voting.

An easy tool for estimating the average time needed to vote a ballot, based on the contents of your ballot and your voting method (paper ballots or electronic voting).

A mobile app poll workers can use to sample and measure the average time voters spend with a ballot.

A free program to help you estimate resource needs at a polling place.

A tool for estimating wait-time and line length when social distancing measures are in effect.

A tool for identifying bottlenecks in polling places when social distancing measures are in effect.

A tool for calculating the number of poll workers and machines needed to keep lines short throughout the day.

A simulation tool to visually explore a polling place’s flow, and to identify potential bottlenecks.

A Microsoft Excel Add-In that helps users process, analyze, and visualize precinct voting data. The tool is compatible with data from DS200 ballot scanners and Poll Pads.

A round-up of success stories for recruiting election workers from local and state election jurisdictions.

A webinar that will help you recruit more people from less vulnerable populations and keep them safe, plan efficient and effective online trainings, and prepare workers to handle questions, paperwork, and processes related to the pandemic.

Lessons learned from the 2020 primaries about poll worker recruitment and training.

USDR is providing support to state and local elections offices to streamline the application and management process for poll workers.

Ten tips to make materials that poll workers use be clear, simple, easy to use, and easy to understand, no matter what is happening in the polling place.

This guidebook contains information and resources to help create tools for election workers that deliver the right kind of information at the right time and in the right place.

A guide to the decisions and policies needed to support implementation of mail-in ballots for the 2020 elections.

This guide was built to help election officials who will be processing their incoming mail ballots either of two ways: with or without a mail ballot sorter. This guide will help you create standard operation procedures for receiving ballots, checking them in for voter credit, ballot opening and extraction, scanning, and duplication and/or adjudication.

A toolkit of vote-by-mail templates and sample documents, including ballot request forms, envelope designs, and voter information and instructions that are based on best practices from around the country.

A user-friendly Excel spreadsheet that allows election officials to input data and simulate multiple scenarios to improve vote-by-mail resource allocation.

Lessons learned in the 2020 primary. Topics include working with the Postal Service, storage and processing space, and working with state officials to ensure adequate processing time.

A webinar that will help you plan for and respond to increased mail volume, adapt simplified templates for your office’s forms, and consider creative approaches for distributing and receiving mail ballot requests.

USDR is providing support to local elections offices to streamline processing of absentee and vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot applications.

Guidance for partnering with your procurement office, designers, envelope and mail ballot print vendors, the US Postal Service (USPS), and mail fulfillment centers.

Considerations to help jurisdictions determine whether to expand electronic ballot delivery and marking. Includes recommendations for effective implementation and security.

Considerations for a typical inbound ballot process in a high-volume mail ballot environment. Includes guidelines on ballot receiving, verification, preparation, and scanning, as well as recommendations for post-election audits and security.

Use simple tools to estimate ballot volume, processing time, and resource needs, plan for time-intensive processes like ballot remakes and spoiled ballots, and update guidelines for tracking, reconciling, adjudicating, and securing more mail ballots.

Best practices and recommendations for signature verification and cure process for ballots.

Train election workers on the fundamentals of signature verification, review options for helping voters “cure” signature issues, and auditing and expanding your existing signature files

In preparation for increasing Official Election Mail volume during the 2020 election season, the Postal Service™ has developed the 2020 Official Election Mail Kit to help in the planning and preparation of election-related mail.

A users guide providing information election officials must consider before they mail.

Local and state election officials may use this form to report past or current issues with official Election Mail processed by the United States Postal Service.

An up-to-date spreadsheet of international USPS service disruptions, shared for informational purposes only.

COVID-19 specific resources and other resources to help election officials identify procedures, strategies, and policies for ensuring mail ballots get cast and counted, and all election-related materials that help citizens cast these ballots are delivered in a timely manner.

A comprehensive guide on ballot drop boxes to help election officials with planning, voter outreach, and execution of drop boxes.

Considerations for using drop boxes, including where they should be located, how ballots should be collected, security considerations, and more.

A webinar that will help you create a ballot dropoff plan tailored for your community, manage your ballot dropoff locations, and communicate with voters about the locations, rules, and timelines.

A planning tool to help you study, plan, and justify ballot dropoff locations in your jurisdiction. While the scoring and criteria can be adjusted to specifically fit your jurisdiction’s needs, this document outlines a number of major considerations for planning your dropoff locations and provides some outlines for a scoring rubric.

An example ballot drop box retrieval daily log from the Orange County, CA Registrar of Voters.

An example drop box incident report form from the Orange County, CA Registrar of Voters.

What happens when a mail ballot arrives with a mistake on the signature form? Some states contact voters so they can fix the problem. How they communicate makes a difference in whether voters accept the invitation with certainty that their votes will be counted.