Hi! I’m Lori Augino, the President of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the Director of Elections for Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. NASED is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, professional association for state election officials in all 50 states, DC, and the five US territories.

So now, let’s talk elections! Election administration varies a lot from state-to-state, but I’m ready to help, whether you’re in Washington State, Washington, DC, or anywhere in between. I have more than two decades of experience in elections at both the state and local level, so ask me all of your election administration questions: what’s different this year, the steps state and local election officials take to secure the vote, and anything else you’ve been dying to know about election administration but haven’t known who to ask.

This AMA has ended.

Thanks everyone for joining today, but I have to head out! Follow NASED on Twitter (NASEDorg) - we'll try to get to more questions there.

Where ever you are, make sure you're #ReadytoVote. If your state's voter registration deadline hasn't passed, register to vote or update your voter registration if your information has changed, even if you just moved down the block! Take a few minutes to plan how you'll vote - where, when, and how you'll cast your ballot, and if you're able to do so, consider applying to be an election worker. We have all the information you need at www.nased.org.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/az86lbe0zbr51.jpg

Comments: 152 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

oOzephyrOo20 karma

  1. I understand the historic reason for having elections on Tuesday but in this age of technology, has there been any discussion of changing to a different date?
  2. What is the resistance to having a nationwide uniform voting method?

NASEDorg13 karma

Discussions about changing the date ebb and flow. On a national level, Congress would have to take action because the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is set by federal statute.

All of the states run elections differently. In some states, like Washington, our elections at the local level are run by counties; in about 12 states, including most of New England, Wisconsin, and Michigan, elections at the local level are run by municipalities. All told, there are between 8,000 and 10,000 local election jurisdictions in the country, plus 50 states, DC, and 5 US territories. Wisconsin alone has over 1,900 local election jurisdictions. This kind of decentralization makes it really hard for uniformity across states!

Within a state, state election officials work really hard with their local election officials to ensure uniformity, and that kind of coordination would be very difficult at the national level.

Constant_Tooth19 karma

I see a lot of people talking about mail in ballots being unsafe. Can you tell us more about mail in ballots and how those are handled?

NASEDorg46 karma

I can! Washington has used voting by mail for ten years, so I have a lot of first-hand knowledge about how this works. Washington State has spent years building in security measures to ensure the voting process remains accessible, secure, and fair, and we’ve been working with other states throughout the pandemic to share our experiences and guidance.

Here, every election, ballots are sent to all active registered voters, and we have over 4.7 million voters. We provide transparency through ballot tracking on VoteWA.gov which empowers voters to ensure their vote counts.

The signature on EVERY envelope is checked against the voter’s registration record. The staff that conduct signature verification receive annual training from the Washington State Patrol. Any time someone flags a signature as a mismatch, a second staff member must review the signatures before confirming that the signature should be marked as not matched.

Once a voter is credited for returning their ballot, an additional ballot cannot be processed for a voter. If a county receives a second ballot from someone who has already been credited as having voted, the ballot is set aside for the county auditor to conduct an investigation.

Ballot processing must be completed in teams of two. No one is left alone with the ballots. And, ballots kept under lock and seal when not being processed. Observation of processing is allowed, and political parties may have official observers present.

Our tabulation machines are kept in a secure environment, and are not connected to the Internet. These systems are tested by county election officials and Office of the Secretary of State staff.

Vote by mail provides a reliable paper audit trail. Ballots must be reconciled at every step of the process and audits are conducted post election. In close races, recounts here are mandatory.

Every state does it a little bit differently, but every election official is working to ensure the integrity and security of ballots cast by mail.

Chtorrr11 karma

What would you most like to tell us that no one ever asks about?

NASEDorg14 karma

Elections happen all the time. We always say that if it's Tuesday, it’s Election Day somewhere. Election officials plan for big general elections like the one on November 3rd for years - we started planning for 2020 in 2016! The process is also transparent - this year is a little harder because of COVID, but you can observe logic and accuracy tests (how election officials test and verify all voting equipment pre-election), canvassing boards, and so much more! If you have questions about how things are run where you live, get involved, either by watching the process or even by serving as an election worker.

derouse11 karma

Thank you for doing this Lori! I have two questions:

1) What voting reforms (ie automatic voter registration, same day voter registration,etc) would help improve the strength and participation of our elections?

2) Is there an inherent trade off between the ease of voting and the security of the vote?

NASEDorg14 karma

What works in one state, might not be the best solution for another. In Washington, we have both automatic voter registration and same day registration (and pre-registration and voting by mail!), but those work for us. It took us time to build up to these solutions, we didn’t do it all at once. I think it’s important to have a strong technology foundation before you move to policy solutions.

Balancing access and security is a challenge for election officials - we have to make elections 100% secure AND 100% accessible and every state approaches that a little differently. In Washington, we’ve done that by making sure that there are multiple different ways for a voter to cast a ballot - by mail, at a dropbox, in person - and we verify the signature on every single ballot that is returned to us. We also do regular voter registration list maintenance to make sure that we are keeping up with voters who have moved or changed their name. Washington is a founding member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which helps us with that.

sunnylak119 karma

Would there ever be a situation where it's too close to call the race on 11/3 because not all the mail in ballots have been counted?

NASEDorg19 karma

While the focus on election night is on who won and who lost, remember that election night results are always unofficial - election officials don’t call races, the media do. This year, with more ballots than ever before cast by mail, results on election night will be more incomplete than in years past. In the days and weeks following November 3, election officials will count every eligible ballot within the bounds of state laws, including provisional ballots, mail ballots, and ballots cast by military and overseas voters. Some races will be close and may require a recount or a recanvass, depending on the state, but every eligible ballot will be counted as cast.

jmar42348 karma

How much does our vote matter, versus the house vote? I always hear "it doesn't matter because either way its up to the house".

NASEDorg15 karma

Each year, hundreds of elections are decided by one vote or even result in a tie. Try telling those candidates that one vote doesn’t matter! It’s important to remember that there’s a lot more on your ballot than just the presidential race, and you don’t have to vote for every race on the ballot. Just make sure you follow the instructions and only vote for the right number of candidates in a given race.

ArchdukeToast6 karma

How long does it typically take for absentee ballots to arrive?

NASEDorg6 karma

Every state is a little different and mails their ballots at different times. In Washington, the deadline to mail ballots is Oct. 16. This year many counties and states are mailing earlier because of concerns about mail delays and many states are offering ballot tracking, so you can watch your ballot move through the mailstream.

Each state works with the USPS in their mailing area to ensure that there are open lines of communication with postal officials and elections officials. It’s important that postal officials know when to expect mail and that election officials know who to contact if there are reports of delivery delays. The USPS recommends that voters mail their ballot in a week before election day and we suggest voters use a ballot drop box or return their ballot to their election official when returning closer to Election Day to ensure it’s received in time.

Starblossom54 karma

When can we expect the official results of the 2020 presidential race? November 3? Mid-November? Late November? December?

NASEDorg11 karma

We need to normalize that election results will take longer when you’ve got a larger number of ballots coming by mail. It’s not a sign that there’s a problem or some kind of compromise, it’s proof of the commitment that election officials have to the integrity of the process and counting every single eligible vote. In Washington, counties certify the election on November 24. Electors from across the country will convene and cast their electoral votes on December 14.

sunnylak114 karma

Hello, does every state have a governor running in this election?

NASEDorg4 karma

No - different states have different offices on the ballot. This year, governors are on the ballot in Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

sunnylak113 karma

What is the reason for only some states having governor races in 2020 but not all?

NASEDorg5 karma

This is handled at the state level and dictated by state constitutions. Some have term limits, some are in even years, some in odd years.

Ancient_Woodpecker414 karma

ive heard alot about ballot harvesting and dont understand it. what does it mean? and how does it affect our elections?

NASEDorg4 karma

“Ballot harvesting” is when a third party collects mail ballots from voters and returns them to the election office or puts it in the mail. Unless you are unable to return your ballot yourself in person or by mail, it’s never a good idea to rely on a third party to return your ballot - it’s your vote!

Different states have different laws around this. In some states, it’s legal, in others it isn’t, and in some the third party has to sign the ballot envelope or provide other documentation.

MemoryOfAnAdversary3 karma

Do you have any interests outside of politics?

NASEDorg8 karma

I love the nuts and bolts of elections administration. It’s my passion. In my spare time, which isn’t much, I spend time with my wonderful family. We love walking our dog Maggie...even in the northwest rain. I can’t imagine any other career. I have my dream job!

NASEDorg3 karma

Thanks everyone for joining today, but I have to head out! Follow NASED on Twitter (NASEDorg) - we'll try to get to more questions there.

Where ever you are, make sure you're #ReadytoVote. If your state's voter registration deadline hasn't passed, register to vote or update your voter registration if your information has changed, even if you just moved down the block! Take a few minutes to plan how you'll vote - where, when, and how you'll cast your ballot, and if you're able to do so, consider applying to be an election worker. We have all the information you need at www.nased.org.

leafking583 karma

Why do I keep getting ads asking me to vote although I'm 16? Also how does the electoral college work?

NASEDorg6 karma

Not sure why you’re getting ads, but depending on which state you’re in, you may be able to pre-register to vote now, so that when you turn 18 you are ready to go. You may also be eligible to serve as an election worker if you're interested! You can find information for your state at www.nased.org.

The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution, in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. In most states, the winner of their electoral college votes is the winner of the popular vote for president statewide. There are two - Maine and Nebraska - where the State winner receives two electors and the winner of each congressional district (who may be the same as the overall winner or a different candidate) receives one elector. This system permits Nebraska and Maine to award electors to more than one candidate. For everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the electoral college, you should check out the National Archives website on it.

sunnylak112 karma

I just received my mail-in ballots in the mail and it made me wonder - how do election officials STOP voter fraud. For example - if a person were to send in their mail-in ballot and then also go to vote in person - what would happen? How do you track that? Is it by the person's name? Or a special ID number? When they go to put the voting slip in the machine will it say "Error - this person has already voted by mail?" My biggest conern is that people will try to vote twice in this election

NASEDorg7 karma

Washington State has spent years building in security measures to ensure the voting process remains accessible, secure, and fair, and we’ve been working with other states throughout the pandemic to share our experiences and guidance.

Here, every election, ballots are sent to all active registered voters, and we have over 4.7 million voters. We provide transparency through ballot tracking on VoteWA.gov which empowers voters to ensure their vote counts.

The signature on EVERY envelope is checked against the voter’s registration record. The staff that conduct signature verification receive annual training from the Washington State Patrol. Any time someone flags a signature as a mismatch, a second staff member must review the signatures before confirming that the signature should be marked as not matched.

Once a voter is credited for returning their ballot, an additional ballot cannot be processed for a voter. If a county receives a second ballot from someone who has already been credited as having voted, the ballot is set aside for the county auditor to conduct an investigation.

Additionally, we are one of several states that compares history after election day to identify if anyone voted in more than one state or voted on behalf of a deceased voter. I wish I could say that we don’t find anyone who does this. In 2018 we identified 132 instances of voters who voted more than once and 10 instances of voters who voted on behalf of a deceased voter. We forward this information to investigators and prosecutors to determine if charges can be filed.

All states work closely with law enforcement and prosecutors post election to ensure these cases are investigated. So while it does happen in small numbers, research like this shows that fraud is not rampant.

_whatnot_2 karma

Hi Lori, I'm in WA too and love our mail-in voting system.

My actual question: How much ability do electors have to vote against the popular vote in their state (however their state allocates it)? How often has it happened before?

NASEDorg1 karma

There was actually recent US Supreme Court case about this that came out of Washington and Colorado in 2016, when a handful of Electoral College delegates pledged to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but voted for other individuals. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld laws across the country that remove or punish rogue Electoral College delegates who refuse to cast their votes for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.

Philaharmic2 karma

I’m pretty sure I was automatically registered to vote, but I went ahead with a 3rd party to register

How do I truly know that I did?

I live in Texas where voting is the most impossible thing ever

NASEDorg9 karma

Texas does not have automatic voter registration. You should check with the Texas Secretary of State to see if you are registered. If you're not, you can find the information you need to do so on their website. We always recommend relying on your state or local election official for voter registration and election information so that you can make sure the information you have is accurate and up-to-date. #TrustedInfo2020

jeebers_571 karma

What is your political party affiliation?

NASEDorg2 karma

We don't register by party in Washington, and I've worked for both Republicans and Democrats.

anaugle1 karma

Hi Lori,

First, I want to say thanks for doing this.

I am told that I need to register with the exact name I registered with. I usually use my first and last name, but I’m told if I added my middle initial and omitted it at the poll, my vote would be invalid.

Is this true, and if so, how do I find out the name I used to register?

Thanks again!

NASEDorg1 karma

Thanks for joining!

That’s not how it works in Washington. I can’t say for sure on that question for other states. You can find information on how to contact your election official to find out how you’re registered at www.nased.org.

the_Bole1 karma

How do 3rd parties that collect and deliver mail in ballots for others know which voters have not submitted ballots; do they have access to the voter rolls from each State's Secretary of State? Does it concern you there is no formal chain of custody from the voter to the ballot box when these 3rd parties are involved in certain states?

NASEDorg1 karma

This is a great question. Unless you really can’t, we recommend that you return your ballot via USPS yourself or return it to a dropbox or to your election official. In states that allow third parties to return ballots, they typically require the signature of the person returning it or other documentation.

Also, voter registration lists are public information, available for purchase or for free from the states.

AcanthisittaNo42681 karma

2 questions,

1) it seems like there’s a lot of mistakes that can happen on a mail in ballot that would be easier to avoid in person. For example in some states a freaking notary is required, in others, COVID cannot be listed as a reason for requesting a mail in ballot. How much guidance and how quickly is that guidance provided to voters that make a mistake about mail-in, and will they have a chance to vote in person or have a second chance to submit a mail in ballot? Who is in charge of provided instructions to voters that want to vote yet made a mistake due to the format of the ballot?

2) Since a big percent of votes will be in the form of mail this year, how accurate are tracking systems to account for close to or 100% of the votes coming from mail-in? How will states account for delays that USPS is responsible for that may land ballots too late to be counted? How will these late- votes be handled?

NASEDorg2 karma

Voting by mail does mean that voters really need to read the instructions to make sure they’re doing everything properly. State and local election officials have worked hard over the last several months to make sure that instructions are clear and easy to understand, and many have done really robust voter education campaigns to make voters aware of what they need to. In many states, voters are offered the opportunity to cure any deficiency in their mail ballot, which is a fancy way of saying that they are contacted after their ballot is received to provide a missing signature, for example. So make sure that, when you receive your ballot by mail, you read the instructions closely and don’t be afraid to ask your local election official for help if you need it. And then, make sure that you pay attention to any correspondence you receive from your election office to make sure that you don’t need to provide anything else after they’ve received your ballot.

State and local election officials work really closely with USPS to make sure that things go smoothly, and we know that sometimes things don’t go to plan. It’s why we recommend mailing your ballot early (at least 7 or 8 days) before Election Day to make sure it arrives in time and to make sure that you still have time to make another arrangement if your ballot doesn’t arrive at the election office. If you can’t mail it then, you can return it to your local election office in person or in many states you can return a ballot to a secure dropbox.

Hiteacheryouare1 karma

Is it safe to register to vote one one of those third party websites (i.e. vote.org or iamavoter) rather than just registering to vote on my state’s website?

NASEDorg1 karma

Voters should rely on their state and local election officials for registration and information about elections. This is always the case, but especially this year, where deadlines and details keep changing as a result of COVID and lawsuits.

We have everything you need for all 50 states, DC, and the five US territories on our website: www.nased.org.

Violenna1 karma

Recently moved from CA to AZ for work, but my work doesn't begin till next week. I am registered to vote in CA, but I don't think that I can vote in person. How can I mail-in my ballot from AZ if I still legally live in CA?

NASEDorg3 karma

If you’re not able to vote in person and you’re registered to vote in California, your local election official in California is mailing every registered voter a ballot so you should receive one. Whatever you decide to do, remember that you can’t vote in Arizona and California. You can find more information about how to contact election officials in both of those states on our website: www.nased.org

Poobeard761 karma

Hi Laney,

Big fan here.

What are you doing about them Russians wanna steal our elections?

NASEDorg6 karma

Different states approach this differently, but all 50 states, DC, and the territories take election security seriously. Over the last several years, states have worked to upgrade voting equipment, secure voter registration databases, and train/exercise with their local election officials to prepare for any number of scenarios. In Washington, for example, we’re fortunate to have a lot of tech companies headquartered here, and we’re working with the National Guard as well as the Department of Homeland Security to take advantage of their cyber-expertise. We annually host Cyber Day at our state elections conference, where counties hear from national and state cybersecurity experts. These are just a few of the things we’re doing, and states across the country are doing similarly to make sure that voters can have confidence in the system.

State and local election officials work really hard to secure our systems, but voters also need to be wary of efforts to mislead and misinform. Make sure you’re getting accurate information by relying on your election officials for information about where and how to vote, deadlines, and more. You can find links right to state websites on NASED’s site: www.nased.org.

At the end of the day, Americans decide American elections.

joshmorleyGC1 karma

Is there anyone that can potentially tell you to “stop counting votes” after a certain period of time? I.E.- Can the president or someone else high up say to stop if one candidate is in the lead on midnight November 3rd?

NASEDorg2 karma

Election night results are never final. Election officials spend the days and weeks after the election counting every eligible ballot, and this is totally normal and happens every election. Different states have different dates for certifying the election, and once an election is certified, counting has to stop.

bofawhat-1 karma

i heard that voting is for nerds, will i get my lunch money stolen or my head shoved into a flushing toilet by my local school bully if i am to vote?

NASEDorg3 karma

I think you're a nerd if you don't vote!

If you need to register or learn how to vote, find your state info here: www.nased.org

TheAlpineDSP-1 karma

Lori - in all seriousness - why do we have general elections if the electoral college decides the president? I ask because Gore and H. Clinton both won the popular vote; and that is to say the people voted for whom they wanted. But it doesnt matter; if the EC is different than the general count the EC (trumps the General votes) -- I know this is how it works; but why is it considered democratic? It seems to me those that play the political game are always in control and the people are fools thinking they are making a difference on national elections for president but not really

NASEDorg0 karma

There’s a lot more on the ballot than just president! Voting is your opportunity to help shape your community. Remember: you don’t have to vote in any race on the ballot that you don’t want to.