So there is a story today in the New York Times noting that the Colorado Secretary of State lost a lawsuit and has to restore voters to the voter registration list. They also have a story with the headline “In a Tight Race, Victor May Be Ohio Lawyers.” I would like to argue that the actual headline should be, “In a Tight Race, Victor will be Counties with Good Public Administration.”
The key to good elections in good public administration; that should be obvious. Election officials who get sued and lose are typically people who are not following basic public administration. They are not putting in place effective procedures, using effective training, following appropriate due process rules, or thinking through the people-process-technology mantra that most of us on this blog have written about at some point. Mike and I have written–together or with others–about the importance of procedures, the issues associated with delegation, the issue of poll workers and poll worker training, and factors that affect voter confidence that election officials should think about, including the role poll workers play in affecting voter confidence.
Anyone can get sued but jurisdictions that follow good public adminsitration don’t get successfully sued. The courses taught in a public administration program–ethics, constitutional law, public law, public management, personnel management, and implementation–are all things that election administrators need to know and, if they follow the basic rules, will keep them out of trouble.