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When I discuss the field of elections with non-geeks, I’m often asked if there’s a trade association or interest group to whom someone might refer for more details. The answer, of course, is that there isn’t; because there are so many different kinds of election officials at so many different levels of government and in so many different ZIP codes, I tell people that the groups representing election officials comprise a rich and varied alphabet soup. There are state associations of local officials like the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE) or the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) and national organizations for state officials like the National Association of Secretaries of State or National Association of State Election Directors – but there has never been a single national organization that represents the interests of local election officials.
That possibility got a little closer last week when the leadership of two organizations – the International Association of Clerks Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT) and the National Association of County Recorders and Clerks (NACRC) announced that the membership of the two organizations has voted to merge. Here’s an excerpt from an email I received from NACRC President (and Orange County, CA Registrar) Neal Kelley:
The results of our merger election are in – members of both NACRC and the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT) have voted to merge both organizations into a new, single, stronger organization.
The results of the elections are as follows:
NACRC members: 103 (94.5%) YES and 6 (5.5%) NO.
IACREOT members: 107 (62.21%) YES and 65 (37.79%) NO.
So what’s next? As agreed upon by the governing boards of each organization, a committee consisting of members from both organizations will begin work immediately on the details for a new association. A new organization will be formed in September 2015 and a year will be spent ensuring that all of the legal, financial and membership needs are taken care of prior to the official merger, which will be completed by September 2016.
With the merger, the new organization to be named later will have a broader reach and will potentially give local election officials a stronger national voice on election policy issues. There are, of course, still challenges:
- As the voting numbers suggest, membership numbers – even in the two combined organizations – still falls fall short of capturing the full population of thousands of local officials nationwide;
- The new organization will also have to find a way to add value to the services already provided by state organizations like CACEO and FSASE; and
- Even if numbers grow and the mission expands, the new organization will have to figure out how to distill and represent the views and interests of a widely varied nationwide base.
Even with the merger, there are still other national-local organizations like the Election Center which likely have members outside the rolls of the two merging entities. But for many existing members, the NACRC-IACREOT merger will either mean one fewer membership or many more new like-minded colleagues.
Either way, this development is an important and a foresighted response to the increasing nationalization of election policy issues. Congratulations to Neal Kelley and his IACREOT counterpart Michael Winn (Travis County, TX) for the successful merger vote – and best of luck in completing the merger over the next year!
Stay tuned …