GAO surveyed state election offices and local election jurisdictions about steps they took to prepare for and conduct the 2020 elections during the pandemic. The surveys asked questions on steps and challenges in five areas: absentee/mail voting, in-person voting, election supplies, election worker recruitment and training, and voter education and outreach. GAO received survey responses from 43 states and 407 local jurisdictions.
Within the area of in-person voting, for example, nearly all states reported taking steps to coordinate with public health agencies, and most coordinated with emergency management agencies, consulted with vendors and experts, and helped local election offices add new polling locations. Nearly all local jurisdictions reported taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as by providing protective equipment to election workers. States and local jurisdictions most commonly reported that various issues related to in-person voting—such as funding and understanding guidance—were not challenging…. Additionally, nearly all states and most local jurisdictions reported that false or misleading information about absentee/mail voting was challenging.
Nearly all states and some local jurisdictions reported that they used U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) information resources and guidance during the pandemic. Nearly all states used information about CARES Act grants; fewer used information on other election administration topics. Most states reported finding EAC’s information helpful during the 2020 elections. Most local jurisdictions reported that they did not use EAC information on any of the topics GAO asked about, such as in-person voting. The most common reasons cited were that they were not aware of or did not need the information.