Change is Gonna Come: Brian Newby’s Latest

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[Image courtesy of ecinc]

Brian Newby’s newest ElectionDiary (“Be The Change!“) looks at the idea of change management in the field of election administration.

Building off a presentation he did for the Election Assistance Commission recently, Brian makes the point that change – which is hard in any field, including election administration – is not only expected but the kind of thing for which an election official should plan.

Here’s his take on the current situation:

[I’ve been] thinking about the election administration profession since I entered it in 2005.

When I came, there was great change in election administration. I often argued that the industry was facing more change than any other area of government. Fresh from the 2000 presidential election and the subsequent Help America Vote Act, there were significant technical and operational changes.

Plus, there was a new group of election activists poking around procedures, writing books, making videos, and–sometimes at least–seeming more intent on attacking individuals than protecting integrity in elections. To a large degree, those individuals have moved on, but not before many long-term election administrators–underpaid and devoted government employees–retired.

Things have simmered. Federal legislative activity has lessened in intensity. While many states have enacted legislation impacting elections–particularly in the area of photo identification–the pace of change has slowed.

Or, at least the driver of the change is shifting.

Newby’s point is simple: change in the election field is coming regardless (ask the Supreme Court) – election officials just need to decide if they are going to let it happen or make it happen:

It occur[s] to me that we’ve spent much of the last few years being changed, reacting to change created by others.

We face significant restrainers: the postal service, the availability of advance voting sites, increased voter expectations about the advance voting experience, school safety issues, and soon-to-be-obsolete technology and the necessary replacement, often without funding, of voting equipment.

As election administrators, we are now in a position to be the drivers of change, to deal with these factors in a way that preserves voting options and does so economically. This is a time that begs for great innovation, akin to the innovation that many of those previous election administrators drove before retiring in the early 2000s.

This simple post is a powerful call to the field to embrace change as a method for improving elections. Thanks to Brian for sharing and for the reminder that change is something we can do and not just endure.

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