Shameless promotion: why we need to study election administration

I just watched the CNN video, and read stories last night about five hour lines.   This link takes you to a Google news search for “early voting lines florida.”

The only point I wanted to add is this: we knew this was likely to happen.  Conny McCormack went down to Florida during their primary, measured the time it took to execute the “ballot on demand” system for an individual voter and compared that to the time it took to process a voter on a DRE, and wrote that long lines were almost a certainty.

I have been involved in some heated debates over election reform in Oregon, as I’m sure Mike and Thad have in their respective states.  And I’m sure they’ve both had the dreaded “academic” label tossed at them. You know, academics, we always want to study things.  We’re always saying “what if.”

Well, many times, “what if” ends up being “what is,” and what is can be a train wreck.

We’re not interested in studying election administration just for the heck of it.  It is seldom professionally rewarding for us.  It focuses on policy reform, not “political science.”  It is often focused on a single state or jurisdiction. I am involved and excited about this field because I feel like I can make a real, measurable difference in how elections are conducted in this great country.

Scholars have the tools and the insights that can often help election administrators predict and avoid these problems.  Please, take advantage of our expertise.  With all due respect to some–not all–but some elected officials and administrators out there, reforming elections without pilots, tests, and asking ALL the “what ifs” is very risky.