[FIELD TRIP]: Support the election administrator, support the voter.
On Wednesday, September 4 at the dark hour of 5am, NOI’s team of young election administration enthusiasts embarked on a special journey. We pointed the needle north, rolled out of our nation’s capital, and landed in Philadelphia, PA for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s (PCEA) fourth Public Meeting.
Oh hi, Philly! Photo by Jose Morales
The all-day agenda included panels of local election officials, state election officials, political scientists, researchers, lawyers, and wonks. It was a thrill ride. Discussion topics ranged from emergency preparedness, usability and accessibility, and limited english proficiency (LEP) in elections.
Donny Bridges excels at tweeting.
The presentations and follow-up Q&A satisfied our appetite for solid EA information, for sure. But then the Commission did that thing they do: they opened the mic to the public.
We were faced with big questions: Could we, as folks who work directly with election administrators and their data, sit on our duffs and not speak up? Could we, as voters who have experienced a range of election services, ignore this opportunity to have our voice heard? Could we, as change-makers, keep quiet? The answer was a resounding nope.
NOI + PCEA = <3 Photo by Theresa Pitosa.
We jumped on the golden opportunity to talk about ELECTricity, our newest election administration project, and how it can help make elections better.
“Tickled” Photo by Cristina Sinclaire
You can find the full text of our public comments here, but we want to share the highlights to get you amped about the work:
“The peaceful transition of power in our country, as a result of an election, is a modern miracle. Robin Carnahan, former Missouri Secretary of State, has brilliant framework to allow us to consider elections as a service, wherein, as an election administrator:
You work year round, but your shop is only open a few days per year.
You prepare for all of your customers to show up on one day.
Your front-line employees are paid minimum wage, work a 16-18 hour shift, and, on average, are over 70 years old.
Your customers expect their experience to be a perfect 30 minutes or less.
Election administrators across the country face common challenges, but little, if any, infrastructure currently exists to help overcome those challenges. At this precise moment, no one is successfully facilitating connections between administrators to share solutions. As a result jurisdictions are expending already limited resources spinning and reinventing the wheel.
The existence alone of this commission is legitimizing the work of election administrators everywhere. Election administration has never been sexier. But elections are too important to stop here. Earlier this year at IACREOT we launched a knowledge network of local election administrators across our country. We are calling this network ELECTricity; a network that thrives on peer learning, that raises the professional standard of election administration, and that promotes continuing education. A network of, by, and for local election administrators. It is our hope that you, as a Commission, will encourage election administrators to engage with us.
Elections are profoundly human. It’s no surprise that election administration is people-powered. ELECTricity believes the most effective way to dignify election legislation and the most effective way to dignify the taxpayers’ purchase of voting systems is by investing in the professional development of the people who conduct elections. We believe that by championing election administrators’ smart practices we will see better-educated voters; fewer problems at the polls; increased confidence in elections; and ultimately, increased voter participation.
We believe that by supporting the election administrator, you are supporting the voter.”