Masterson: It’s something election officials hear about all the time. I can tell you my experience in Ohio. When we dug into that. It was virtually non-existent. But to the extent that election officials could, they looked at their processes, looked at ways they could both educate the public on the process to serve voters. It is my opinion, in the vast majority of jurisdictions today in America, it is easier to vote today than it has ever been. We have more days of early voting, more resources available like online registration, more outreach to voters in the form of voter information tools that they know when they can vote, where they can vote, what’s on their ballot. They are all enfranchising matters that election officials across the country have taken. The election community as a whole has really embraced this discussion to say: How can we work to serve voters better? It’s as easy to vote today as it’s ever been.
Center for Public Integrity: You’ve been chairperson for several weeks now since taking over. Talk about some of your top-line goals for the next year.
Masterson: We’re focusing on three main areas moving forward. One is helping election officials both maintain and upgrade the election technology infrastructure. Election officials across the country have aging equipment and are either looking to upgrade or switch out that equipment. And, so, we’re providing a variety of resources to help them do that. That’s everything from requests for purchase that other jurisdictions are putting out across the country with a guide — 10 tips on purchasing new election technology that we have for them to use — and then talking to them about what’s available for them out there and what serves their needs. Voters are looking to vote in ways that fit into their everyday lives. Two: accessibility. Not just in the traditional serving voters with disabilities, which has been a focus for the EAC since it started. But it also means serving voters with language needs. We’re going to have a language summit coming out in the summer to really help those jurisdictions have some resources and some best practices on how to serve these voters who have language assistance needs. And then three: There is this conversation about critical [voting] infrastructure. For election officials, details matter. Any change, and new process, is uncertainty for them. We’re really trying to help cope with that uncertainty by facilitating a dialogue about giving them the resources they need.
Center for Public Integrity: Is your job more difficult in that there are some people on Capitol Hill who would like to see the EAC, as an independent organization, either go away or be wrapped into the Federal Election Commission? How does that affect the work you just described, if at all?
Masterson: Obviously, we’re aware of it, but honestly, it doesn’t impact us. We remain focused on serving the state and local election officials that we work with and making sure that they have the resources available to them. We’re coming off the conversation on Tuesday about critical infrastructure. We’re coming off the most interesting presidential election certainly any of us have ever seen and election officials have real needs and real questions about the security of the systems, the integrity of the process, so we’re working directly with them, as we have all along, to get them the resources they need to serve them well.
Center for Public Integrity: You and your colleagues have recently been to Capitol Hill. What happened?
Masterson: Senators had some questions for us about the security of the process and the steps the EAC took last year to help secure the process. We’re happy to inform them, talk to them, about the work we do, and the great work the election officials do across the country.