NASED's History


NASED is the only professional organization for state election directors.

Prior to 1989, there was no professional association for election directors.  Many attended National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) meetings with Secretaries of State to learn about developments in election administration.  In addition, throughout the 1980s, Election Directors participated in developing the original Voting System Standards under the direction of the National Clearinghouse on Election Administration at the Federal Election Commission (FEC). 

In 1989, driven by concerns about news networks releasing election results before the polls had closed, a group of state election directors and administrators attending a meeting in Reno, Nevada, agreed to create NASED.  In December 1989, the first NASED meeting was held in Kansas City, Missouri.  After the FEC completed the 1990 Voting System Standards, there was no mechanism for implementation, so NASED’s original mission was focused on voting technology certification, and the organization developed and maintained the first voting system certification program in the United States. 

In 1993, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), substantially changing voter registration across the country.  NASED emerged as a leader, working with the FEC and the U.S. Department of Justice on guidelines for implementation.

In the wake of the controversial presidential election in 2000, NASED was a key advisor to the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, as well as to members of Congress and committee staff on election administration and infrastructure changes.  Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 which made sweeping changes to the administration of elections in the United States.  HAVA created new mandatory minimum standards for states to follow in several key areas of election administration, including provisional voting, voter registration, voter identification, and voting technology and equipment.  These requirements increased the importance of strong communication and coordination among state election directors.

Though the issues have changed somewhat over the years, the purpose of NASED has remained the same—to serve as an exchange of best practices and ideas.  Now, NASED members are at the forefront of the national conversations about cybersecurity, data standards for system interoperability, and civic engagement, working with federal, state, and local officials, as well as advocates and think tanks to build an election system that is secure and accessible to all.


Frequently Asked Questions


+ What is an Election Director?

Election Directors are the nonpartisan professionals in every state, the District of Columbia, and all of the territories who administer and implement election-related policies, procedures, and technologies. Election Directors work closely with local election officials in their jurisdiction.

+ Are Election Directors the same as Secretaries of State?

No. Election Directors are civil servants and 38 report to the Secretary of State in their state. In those 38 states, the Secretary of State is the Chief Election Official in that state.

+ What issues do Election Directors handle day-to-day?

Election Directors work on every issue related to elections: cybersecurity, voting machines, candidate filing, voting technology, voter registration, voter ID, and more.

+ Elections only happen once in a while; what do Election Directors do when it's not Election Day?

Elections are a year round job: if it is a Tuesday, it is Election Day somewhere. While federal elections - for president and for Congress - only happen every two years, many other elections happen throughout the year, every year. These can be special elections to fill unexpected vacancies or statewide offices like Governor or local elections like mayor or city council.

+ Why are elections different in every state?

The American system of federalism leaves responsibility for many key policy areas, including elections, to the individual states and territories. As a result, there is no one national system for administering elections and no two states do it exactly the same way.

+ Are there federal laws that govern elections?

There are a few federal laws that govern the way all or most of the states administer elections. The 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution guarantee access to the ballot, and the National Voter Registration Act, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 all guide how state and local election officials must administer elections.