The Benefits of Check Lists

The World Health Organization is trying to get hospitals around the world to adopt check lists that are followed during surgeries. It turns out that following check lists keeps people from making dumb mistakes, like cutting out the wrong lung, but also counting all of the clamps and sponges keeps doctors from sewing up one inside of a patient inadvertently. There is a New Yorker article from last year that discusses check lists for central lines.

What is interesting here is that people get so focused on voting technology–for voter registration and voting machines–that we tend to forget that it is only through effective processes that things work well. Of course, the problem is that checklists–effective procedures–are not sexy. It is so much sexier to point to a machine or something to buy as the culprit/solution to all of our problems. However, I am willing to bet that effective procedures, some basic election checklists, would make our election processes work better.