"Lean Voting"

On Monday, MIT colleagues Ted Selker and Tomer Posner gave a talk at MIT on what they call “Lean Voting”. Monday’s discussion on “Lean Voting” is archived here, where you can see slides from the talk. This talk comes from Posner’s thesis, which I hope to get a copy of soon!

The basic principles of “Lean Voting” are given in the fourth slide, and are borrowed from work on management:

  • Specify value (needs of the customer)
  • Identify the “value-stream” (the processes used to create value)
  • Make value creating steps “flow” (removal of waste from the value stream)
  • Ensure that the process is driven by customer “pull”
  • Strive for “perfection” (a process of continuous improvement)

Selker and Posner go on to talk about how these principles can be applied to the election administration context, and use as an example Brazil’s transition to electronic voting.

One of the other interesting tidbits in this intriguing presentation is the reference to “Six Sigma” (slide 13) to election administration … something that at various points in the past I’ve heard references to in the context of improving election administration, but have never actually seen discussed seriously.

These are some interesting new ideas for application to election administration. After all, one way to think about election administration is along the lines of the sort of logistical enterprise that large organizations routinely undertake (Conny McCormack of Los Angeles County in the past has compared the logistical arrangements of conducting an election in her enormous jurisdiction to a major military mobilization!). It might be interesting to see ideas like these developed more fully, by colleagues like Selker and Posner who know about process and by others who know about organizational management.

I look forward to reading Posner’s complete thesis soon, and will provide additional details about these innovative ideas when they are available.