More from the AEI-Brookings workshop

I’ve pulled together some of my notes from the two panels at the AEI-Brookings workshop yesterday, and here are some of the highlights that I found of interest.

  1. My slides. I focused on three different issues regarding HAVA implementation. First, a short term issue for election administrators will be change management; how they deal with all of the change going on in their business will be a major issue for election administrators. Second, I argued that a near term issue will be additional work on threat identification and prevention. Third, I then talked about another near term issue, developing better methods of voting system testing and certification. Last, the long term issue will continue to be the fact that elections are a “people process.”
  2. One of the topics of discussion on the first panel focused on interoperability of voter registration databases. Both Paul DeGregorio (EAC Chair) and Deborah Markowitz (Vermont Secretary of State) talked about this issue. They both talked about the current development of regional approaches and cooperative agreements between states to develop methods to share voter registration databases, and that this might constitute a first step towards development of voter registration databases that can be interoperable across state lines. Given the recent study that Thad and I wrote on the need for standards for election administration data exchange, this discussion was something that I found quite interesting.
  3. Also on the first panel, Doug Chapin ( Director) discussed their latest report on HAVA implementation. One memorable quote from Doug was his line, “loose cannon on a rolling deck”, used to describe what he sees as the current situation regarding election controversies. The loose cannon is the continuation of highly competitive elections; the rolling deck stands for the continual change in election administration. Not a pretty picture.
  4. On the second panel, Robert Pastor (American University) focused on what I saw as a series of arguments for a strengthened federal role in election administration, in reaction to what he described as “state-based creative chaos.” He also talked about the interoperability of voter registration databases, asserting that the EAC needs to develop a “unified template” for interoperability.
  5. Also on the second panel, Paul Vinovich (House Administration Committee) helped to keep the academic’s feet on the ground, despite moderator Tom Mann’s suggestion that we engage in “blue sky” thinking. He focused mainly on whether HAVA might be the subject of any congressional action in the near future, which he was quite pessimistic about. He noted that the current desire in Congress was likely to see how HAVA will work, as 2006 is really the first federal election cycle under full HAVA implementation.

These were just the highlights from my notes. The AEI-Brookings election reform project website promises a complete transcript and video soon, which I’ll link to when it is available.