Sharing: Could it Work in Elections?


[Image – and accompanying awwww …. – courtesy of pstracks]

Yesterday’s USA Today had a fascinating look at the proliferation of business based on sharing – apartments, cars, office space, even driveway parking spots – a business fueled by the explosion of social media and near ubiquity of technology which allows buyers and sellers to find one another.

The article made me wonder (and I honestly want to raise the question – don’t know the answer) if the same concept could work in the field of elections. Obviously, some things like ballots can’t be shared, but are there other items or services which could be?

The constraints are obvious: you couldn’t really share in a national election, when everybody needs everything on the same day; you’d want to be sure that the items or services being offered for sharing were reliable and safe; and transportation costs between jurisdictions would have to be reasonable for providers and clients alike.

Still, it’s an interesting idea; if nothing else, this article is going to push me to read that copy of The Mesh by Lisa Gansky that’s ben sharing space on my office bookshelf.

I’d love to hear what you think – feel free to share (see what I did there?) your thoughts in the comments.

3 Comments on "Sharing: Could it Work in Elections?"

  1. I have been wondering lately if staff could be shared between jurisdictions. In Illinois we have some very small jurisdictions were the office in charge of voter registration and conducting elections may only have two or three people and many responsibilities outside of elections.. Wouldn’t sharing between several small jurisdictions a person who dealt only with elections be cost effective and allow those jurisdictions access to a level of professionalism that individually they could not obtain on their own?

  2. Rokey Suleman | July 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply


    Sharing of most items (ballot boxes, equipment etc.) won’t work because all jurisdictions need the equipment at the same time at least every four years making the idea unworkable. However, I believe that some sharing already occurs via the vendors providing services. Vendors program more ballots for jurisdictions than they do not. One person provides this service for multiple jurisdictions. Although there is a cost associated (but I think all sharing programs like ZipCar and bike shares have a cost) it allows jurisdictions to save money by not hiring technical staff.
    I’m not sure what other types of equipment or service could be shared…nor do I think it would be feasable outside of an emergency like fire or flood-recent situations.

  3. Very interesting question. I think of this sharing concept a little bit differently. I think election officials will have to embrace sharing in the very near future. However, I don’t think that sharing will come in the form of sharing between election officials. I think it will be in the form of sharing with other county departments. There are examples of this already like the use of virtual servers to utilize county IT hardware and staff for election matters. I think this will expand to include voting equipment. Software based voting equipment loaded on to commercially available hardware and then wiped and used by other county departments seems a likely next step.

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