[Image courtesy of NCSL via Twitter]
The National Conference of State Legislatures has always been a valuable resource for the field, but recently – under the leadership of Wendy Underhill and the Elections team – NCSL has been stepping up its game. The most recent example is yesterday’s release of a new database aimed at helping legislators and anyone else interested in election policy find the latest information. Here’s the announcement:
What is the impact of major court rulings on voter ID laws?
How are states ensuring voter registration lists are accurate?
Which new voting system designs are being developed for the marketplace?
Finding these answers and other information about elections policy can quickly eat up the kind of time that a lawmaker, legislative staffer or elections administrator can hardly afford to spend.
But that was life before the Elections Administration Research Database, a new tool launched today by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The database brings together more than 1,900 reports that, altogether, address a wide range of elections topics. It is supported by generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The collection includes reports dating back to 2000 and reflects a variety of perspectives, from election administrators to nonprofit organizations to academic researchers. The reports are grouped by subject, author, publication and state and can be searched by a combination of these categories, or by date ranges or a specific article title.
We expect the database to serve as a quick guide to useful elections research, especially for state legislators. After all, lawmakers introduced 2,384 elections bills in 2013. So far in 2014, they’ve added 2,171 more. These totals reflect an interest in improving the way elections are run.
Fortunately, elections administrators and policy researchers have long focused on specific ways to improve the elections process and have shared their findings in publications.
For example, election administrators have experimented with new ways of motivating pollworkers, tracking mail-in ballots and making voting more accessible for voters with disabilities and refined their most successful experiments into well-developed best practices. Academic researchers have studied the impact of election changes such as Election Day registration and vote centers on voter turnout and voter confidence. Surveys by government agencies and nonprofit organizations reveal how election officials and voters feel about the voting experience and potential changes they’d like to see.
We will continue to add to the collection as new research is released and encourage readers to send us any reports we may have missed.
We hope that this database will help lawmakers and election administrators quickly find the information they need to develop efficient, effective, productive solutions to elections administration problems and to share their innovations, successes and setbacks.
I’ve already bookmarked the site as a first stop for my own questions; I recommend you do the same.
Thanks to NCSL for putting this resource together and to Pew for providing the support!