About .gov, for elections
Increasing trusted information
State and local election offices are increasingly tasked with countering false or misleading information about an election on top of administering an election. One concrete response you can take is to make it easy to identify official election information on the internet, a task made simple by .gov.
Using a .gov domain for your online services (like your website or email) helps the public quickly identify you as a trusted government source. That confidence is merited because only U.S.-based government organizations can register a .gov domain, available at no cost. This is different than other well-known ‘top-level domains’ (like .com, .org, or .us) where anyone in the world can register for a fee. Malicious actors know this, and they’ve sought to impersonate election organizations.
Additionally, using .gov increases security:
- Multi-factor authentication is enforced on all accounts in the .gov registrar, different than commercial registrars.
- We ‘preload’ all new domains, which requires browsers to only use a secure HTTPS connection with your website. This protects your visitors’ privacy and ensures the content you publish is exactly what’s received.
- You can add a security contact for your domain, making it easier for the public to tell you of a potential security issue with your online services.
If you’re from the government, we’re here to help. Check out our registration page to begin.
Frequently asked questions
- We’re an elections office. Who is our authorizing authority?
- We’ve been using our name in a different TLD. Can we get the same name in .gov?
- Is there any support available to transition to .gov?
- What other resources are available to elections offices?
(General FAQs are available on our help page.)
We’re an elections office. Who is our authorizing authority?
See also “What’s an authorizing authority and who is ours?“
In general, elections offices maintain legal or practical autonomy from a municipality. Elections offices should follow the requirements for independent intrastate domains. The authorization authority is the highest election official. For state-level election offices, the authorizing authority is typically the state’s chief election official. For local-level election offices, the highest level election official is typically the elected or appointed official that runs the office.
We’ve been using our name in a different TLD. Can we get the same name in .gov?
Your geographic area must be clear in the domain name. In many cases, this will require a two-letter state abbreviation be added to the domain name. However, we allow exception requests; see naming requirements on our domain requirements page.
Is there any support available to transition to .gov?
Though CISA has removed registration and renewal fees, there are often costs associated with migrating to a new domain. These may include hiring technical staff or consultants to facilitate the switch, or include indirect costs, like replacing printed materials and informing the public of the change. While we cannot guarantee access to funds, election offices may wish to seek funding from the following sources:
Help America Vote Act Grants
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has acknowledged that Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds can be used for the process of transitioning to a .gov domain. Election officials are advised to consult with the EAC before making any purchase to ensure it is an appropriate expenditure of funds under the rules governing the grants. For more information, contact the EAC.
Homeland Security Grant Program
The DOTGOV Act made “migrating any online service” to .gov an allowable expense under the Homeland Security Grant Program. FEMA manages the grant program, and potential grantees may include transition costs in their ‘investment justification’ submission. For more information, see FEMA’s preparedness grants manual (PDF, page 50).
State and local collaboration
Election infrastructure often relies on municipal infrastructure, so you may consider collaborating locally to secure resources to transition to .gov. (Non-election U.S.-based government organizations qualify for a .gov domain.)
What other resources are available to elections offices?
CISA is committed to working collaboratively with those on the front lines of elections – state and local governments, election officials, federal partners, and vendors – to manage risks to the Nation’s election infrastructure. CISA provides guidance, products, and voluntary services to state and local election offices to support the election infrastructure community. For more information, visit the CISA election security page or reach out to your regional office representative.