Preparing for Election Season with AWS Countdown Premium

9 minute read
Content level: Intermediate

Help prepare customers using AWS services for the upcoming elections

In 2024, over two billion people will head towards elections in 60+ countries, including India, Mexico, the UK, and the United States. AWS customers are preparing for these elections, and similar to other events, such as sports and entertainment events, we expect cloud services to play a vital part. Cloud services are making an increasing impact across the entire lifecycle of an election – from campaigning, voter registration, vote counting to information broadcasting. To successfully prepare for these events, you must ensure that all the components of your infrastructure and application are optimized to handle expected workloads. In this article, we will offer guidance and tips to help you prepare for election season, which will help ensure security and integrity. AWS customers who are preparing for upcoming elections, and especially those who manage election-related infrastructure, including infrastructure engineering teams, customer engagement teams, cloud operations teams, and product managers are the intended audience.

AWS Countdown Premium, an AWS Support offering, provides critical support across all phases of election support from design to post-election event retrospectives. It offers designated engineer(s) selected from a team of AWS experts who provide proactive guidance and troubleshooting using proven playbooks, and who apply the same best practices used for major events like Amazon Prime Day. Designated engineers get involved from project inception to ensure continuity, provide access to subject matter experts, and leverage support tools for faster issue resolution. They participate in critical event calls for live streaming events, voter registration, vote counting, and more to provide rapid issue triage and resolution armed with application context. AWS Countdown Premium helps you increase your infrastructure investment return by enabling you to deliver high-impact events and achieve your organizational goals.

Election Use cases

Elections are one of the most important administrative processes underlying democratic governments, and today they face an array of sophisticated threats designed to undermine system integrity and public trust. It's critical to maintain transparency and trust in our systems, especially when disinformation is rampant and its risk has increased due to the introduction of GenAI in the mix. We’ve found working with customers on past election events that they primarily require support for the following three use cases during election season:

  1. Live streaming - Manage streaming for election-related events for engagement, election results, and broadcasting. The underlying infrastructure has to scale with increasing viewers with no lag between the live event and streamed event, along with advertisement and analytics insertion.
  2. Manage voting systems - Help ensure the security, integrity, and scalability of your voting systems to ensure transparency and combat the increasing threat of cyber-attacks. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared the electoral system as "critical infrastructure," which places election infrastructure in the same category as the US power grid or financial sector.
  3. Track and publish election results - Design systems that support real-time data ingestion, perform analysis, and render up-to-the-minute election results for your audience. The infrastructure should auto scale with increasing users with no impact to performance along with cost optimization.

AWS Countdown Premium empowers election administrators and other stakeholders to focus on the core needs of the dynamic electorate in a secure, scalable, resilient, and cost-effective way. Countdown Premium extends your team’s capabilities with designated cloud experts who guide you through each step of the planning, preparation, and execution stages, with AWS best-practice informed Well-Architected, Operational Readiness, Security reviews, and recommendations. This allows election stakeholders to focus on these core needs rather than on building and maintaining the underlying infrastructure to support their mission-critical efforts.

Are you Well-Architected?

We usually see a spike in user traffic during critical events windows for these three use cases. We estimate that vote publishing interfaces can receive up to and exceeding 50x peak traffic during US presidential elections in comparison to county elections. The increasing traffic and potential cyber threat by adversaries increase the stress on your infrastructure, resulting in slow response times and even system failures. The AWS Well-Architected Review (WAR) evaluates the architecture of your workloads and compares these to AWS best practices along five pillars: Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization. This in-depth review helps you build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient application infrastructure. The WAR is necessary when you are responsible for the remediation of identified risks, or other areas that are critical to election-related workloads. Ideally the Well-Architected Review should be part of an organization’s best practices, and conducted at least two to three months in advance to allow time to implement recommendations.

Operational Readiness Review

Your voter engagement solutions might be built with services such as Alexa, Amazon Lex, and Amazon Connect to manage call centers or chatbots, or you have an AI-Driven Social Media Dashboard built with Amazon Comprehend. An Operational Readiness Review (ORR) evaluates the readiness, availability, and risks associated with your election-related production workloads and creates a series of action items with remediation to be addressed by your teams. During this process, an AWS expert reviews your operational mechanism, typically with your development, operations, and/or DevOps teams. The AWS expert evaluates and reviews the mechanisms of your operational goals, risk assessment, architecture assessment, monitoring, deployment, testing, team structure, and escalation procedures. This review should be conducted at least one month prior to the event.

Security Review

Cybersecurity and privacy are essential to the effective management of democratic elections and campaigns globally. AWS meets over 90 international compliance standards, certifications, frameworks, and authorizations such as FedRAMP in the US and ISO 27001/27017/27018 internationally, and provides services that adhere to the high privacy bar and data protection standards required of data processors by the GDPR for data privacy in the EU. AWS offers multiple services and resources to help our customers meet these same standards, certifications, and frameworks to help you prepare against malicious activities targeted against election systems. The Security Assessment Tool (SAT) generates a point-in-time assessment of your security posture and offers actionable insights for triaging risk points. The SAT can also be run multiple times as remediation is applied to assess ongoing progress. While, AWS Shield, a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service, used along with Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53, provides comprehensive availability protection against all known infrastructure (Layer 3 and 4) attacks. AWS Countdown Premium engineers helps you validate your security framework and build a landing zone to ensure that your workloads are protected against DDoS attacks, are highly available, and fault tolerant. This review should be conducted at least one month prior to the event.

Infrastructure Scaling

The first step in preparing for traffic scaling is to assess the expected traffic along with the current infrastructure capacity. Along with the traffic demand, it’s important to identify the event scope with a focus on resource constraints, third-party dependency, and/or disaster recovery options to ensure all relevant resources can scale in correlation with the increasing variable traffic. AWS supports scaling at both individual and aggregate level using AWS Auto Scaling, which adjusts capacity to maintain steady performance at the lowest cost in tune with the variable traffic. Some services have to be ‘pre-warmed’ in case of steep traffic forecasts. Customers can reserve the required resources by self-service tools or by reaching out to AWS Support. Your Countdown Premium engineers will assess your capacity requirements and help you reserve infrastructure in the most cost-effective way. They will help you choose the best option among auto scaling, pre-warming, or a combination of both dependent on your systems and expected traffic pattern. For e.g. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) expects to review one billion campaign contributions on AWS in 2024, and will scale up the infrastructure to meet user demands quickly.


Monitoring is crucial to detect and rectify any issues that arise during an election event. An effective monitoring system tracks system performance and identifies potential bottlenecks. It helps mitigate issues by enabling proactive actions and provides data for root cause analysis when an issue does occur. You can track your metrics on vote publishing interfaces or live streaming on CloudWatch or your chat-bot performance in the Amazon lex console. Countdown Premium engineers help you identify the critical metrics, develop dashboards, alarms, and mitigation plan to proactively mitigate or resolve issues. For e.g. Your AI-Driven Social Media Dashboard can help you capture real time customer feedback to help identify any issue with your systems.

Load testing

Load testing helps you understand election system behavior and benchmarks it against the expected peak traffic on election day and important events leading up to it. Exhaustive load testing across application, data, and infrastructure layers is important to build confidence in the systems architecture and operational processes to achieve the customer’s goals. Recently, one of our customer’s vote publishing interface faced higher latency due to increasing user traffic which resulted in poor experience. The issue happened due to an artificial limit on database connections in the application layer, which could have been avoided with an exhaustive load testing. AWS Countdown Premium engineers guide you on load testing and also help you fine tune alarm thresholds against their relevant resources. An escalation matrix, along with a communication plan, should be in place prior to the event with owners assigned to each high priority risk.


After your election event is completed, your infrastructure resources can be ramped down, one of the many benefits of running your workloads on AWS. A post-event retrospective helps identify gaps in your processes, and creates a baseline for similar future events. The retrospective should focus on incidents during the event window, runbook effectiveness, monitoring effectiveness, communication plan, and dependent services performance.


Successful election events rely on reliable, scalable, and secure systems where all system layers work together to create the most effective and secure experience. The success of your event heavily depends on planning and preparation throughout the lifecycle of reviews discussed in this article, with sufficient time allotted to remediate and strengthen your infrastructure and workloads. AWS Countdown Premium will help you on every step of your preparation and execution!

Visit the AWS Countdown Premium product page to learn more, or visit the AWS Console to sign up.