Do states run their own elections? Yes, they do.

Federal and state elections are administered at the local level, and the specifics of how elections are conducted vary from state to state.

The US midterm elections are approaching, with voters submitting their ballots before or on November 8.

At VERIFY, our mission is to prevent the spread of misinformation, including answering common questions surrounding the voting process. In this article, we look at who runs the election and why. When you are voting for candidates for federal office, you can assume that the US government has a hand in running those elections. But is that true?

This report is part of a series of stories ahead of the midterm elections. If you have any questions about the election, email us at or message us on social media @verifythis.


Does the federal government hold elections?



This is wrong.

No, the federal government does not hold elections.


Each state, not the federal government, manages all elections and election security. Experts say this decentralized process makes cheating more difficult.

The right to run their own elections is granted under the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution. According to the National Constitution Center, the Election Provisions give each state and local government the authority to enact a complete set of laws for elections, including rules for election protocols such as voter registration, fraud prevention, vote counting and election results determination.

The person overseeing elections in the state – often referred to as the general manager of elections – also varies depending on state law. In 38 states, that duty rests with the secretary of state. In 31 of those states, the secretary of state is elected. In seven other states, the position is appointed by the governor or the state legislature, according to the Electoral Reformers Network.

In 10 states, the chief election officer is appointed by an election board or election commission. In eight states, a council works with the secretary of state to run elections.

In Alaska and Utah, a Lieutenant Governor is elected chief of the election commission.

Most local municipalities have an elected or appointed official to help manage local races, like a mayor or a seat on the city council. They also help manage polling places for statewide elections. The city or county election clerk or election board is supported by the state’s chief official, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) said.

More from VERIFY: No, absentee ballots don’t count only in close races

How states protect the integrity of the electoral system

Each state has its own process to ensure an election and vote counting takes place safely and securely.

Election security measures vary by state but typically include things like signature verification and identity checks.

For example, in California, voting machines and voting systems are not connected to the internet and votes are cast on paper ballots. There is also a rigorous process for verifying a person’s signature on vote-by-mail ballot identification envelopes and provisional ballot envelopes.

In Ohio, voting machines are also not connected to the internet and ballots are printed on paper or are paper-checked by voter-verified, which means that if a person votes electronically, the voter will receive a printout of their ballot and be able to review it before voting. Ohio voters are also required to present several forms of identification.

In Texas, the state outlines the size, shape, and material of each ballot box to ensure they cannot be tampered with. Any place where ballots are kept or counted is also monitored by video in Texas, and armed peace officers are stationed at any central counting site.

“The distributed responsibility for administering elections also makes conducting elections at the national level extremely difficult, if not impossible,” said the NCSL.

To learn about election integrity and protections in your area, you can visit the website of your election board or your personal secretary of state.

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