PHOENIX — After six democratic primary debates and over $340 million already spent, the 2020 Presidential Election officially begins Friday, December 27.
Town and City clerks in New Hampshire began the process of sending out official ballots to active duty military and overseas civilians for the nation’s first Presidential primary, which occurs on February 11.
Elections and the security surrounding them have not strayed far from the mind of the nation’s collective conscience. On January 6, 2017, Fourteen days before President Donald Trump took office the Secretary of Homeland Security designated election infrastructure as a critical infrastructure subsector, a move that allowed for the DHS to provide a wider array of cooperation with election jurisdictions across the country. This is in addition to a report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee in July of 2019 indicating that Russia targeted election systems in all 50 states, probing them for weaknesses.
This has caused election experts and administrators to rethink how they run elections. Turning from a project management model to one that more closely resembles a military battle plan.
The Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs recently released “The Election Battle Staff Playbook”, a guide that maps out strategies for operational control, coordination, and an election operation center “war room.” At the core of the document is a ranking system that addresses a range of issues such as individual voter inconvenience to major incidents that could potentially impact the integrity of the election.
This rethinking of elections comes as no surprise to Marine Veteran, and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
“Our staff has got a lot of military background. Voter registration has got a Marine at the head, our Operations Director is a former Army guy, and the guy running the warehouse is former military as well.” Said Fontes.
While Fontes would not talk about the specifics of their security protocols, he did say that the members of Federal, State, and local law enforcement were now embedded in the operation, and that coordination with state and county elections officials was another critical piece of the puzzle.
When asked what the most important security aspect of the operation was, Fontes didn’t hesitate to refer to Maricopa’s 2.5 million voters. “I think the most critical security item is that voters need to know that they are in partnership with us.” He said. “They need to update their voter registration records periodically, change their address and party affiliation, if they have one, because it helps our accuracy and transparency.”
Election Term: Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act
The Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is a federal law signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. The purpose of the law is to guarantee the voting rights and ballot access to US Citizens residing either temporarily or permanently outside the United States, including members of the military and their families, civilian federal government employees on assignment, and other private citizens residing outside the United States.
The law is administered by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which is umbrellaed under the Department of Defense. The law was amended in 2010 with several provisions to govern the transmission of ballots to people covered under UOCAVA. One of these was the requirement that election jurisdictions distribute UOCAVA ballots 45 days prior to an election.