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Election Day

Mary Terrell and Carl Terrell, of Olivette, vote at the Logos School in Olivette, on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. Photo by Hillary Levin,

With the 2020 presidential election less than a year away, Americans are preparing to vote in upcoming primaries and caucuses to determine who will be on the November ballot. Election officials at the state and local level have been quietly working behind the scenes to enhance election security and ensure that eligible Americans are able to cast their ballots.

I am privileged to serve as a commissioner with the Election Assistance Commission, which is the only federal agency solely dedicated to improving election administration in this country. As part of my job, I have the opportunity to visit with election officials throughout the country and learn more about the critical work being done to conduct secure, accurate and efficient elections.

Having once served as deputy general counsel for the Missouri secretary of state’s office, I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to return to Missouri this week and learn more about the Show-Me State’s preparations for the 2020 elections.

Since the 2016 election, Missouri has worked to bolster its election security on all fronts: electronic, physical and social. Last year, when Congress appropriated $380 million in the 2018 version of the Help America Vote Act to improve the administration of elections across the nation, Missouri was the first state to send in its request for funding. It received more than $7.2 million dollars, some of which the state has used to implement cybersecurity enhancements to the statewide voter registration database. The secretary of state’s office has also facilitated risk assessments that enable county officials to better secure future elections.

Excellent work is also being done at the local level. Earlier this month, St. Louis County ran its first election on the new voting equipment that will be in place for 2020. Additionally, Greene County recently conducted a successful pilot on a potentially more efficient and effective post-election audit. These examples highlight a small piece of the integral work Missouri election officials are performing every day to set the stage for the 2020 presidential election year.

Voters also have a key role to play. As we prepare for 2020, I would like to encourage all eligible Missourians to register to vote or verify that information in their registration, such as current address, is up to date. This can be done by visiting the Missouri secretary of state’s website at

In addition, please consider contacting your local election official to volunteer as a poll worker on election day. Now is a great time to reach out. In 2020, Missouri has elections in March, April, August and November. Election officials prefer to have poll workers who are able to work multiple elections. If you are a first time poll worker, the experience of working primary elections, which often have lower turnout, will pay dividends in ensuring you are prepared for the general election in November.

As a former St. Louis County poll worker, I can tell you firsthand about how rewarding it is to help your neighbors participate in our democracy. While state and local election administrators and the Election Assistance Commission work tirelessly to instill voter confidence and improve elections, nothing boosts confidence in our election system like directly being a part of the process.

Ben Hovland is vice chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent and bipartisan commission established to help America vote.