After participating in this election, it has become more apparent than ever to me that we need a national strategy for conducting them. Why do we have 50 different deadlines, procedures and sets of rules? Why do we use outdated processes? Because no one is in charge.

I spent 13 hours in the basement of our jail building counting absentee ballots this week. It was a tedious, manual process, probably much like they used in the 1950s. With 81% of Americans owning smartphones, I have to believe there is a way to create a secure app that allows not only easy voting but real-time tabulation of those votes. Why isn’t an office charged with the task (and given the resources) to take on such a challenge?

This election increased the number of voters, but did little to improve the knowledge of those casting ballots. We need one central site that provides information about all the candidates and propositions on the ballot – not just the high profile races. Even for people who wanted to be educated voters, it was not easy to find anything on the county-wide positions or judgeships – candidates should be required to provide information when they apply to be on the ballot (and it should all be fact-checked before appearing) and propositions could include a statement listing pros/cons. Why don’t we help people know who/what they are voting for instead of making it a popularity or name recognition contest? Because no one is in charge.

The variation in voting rules also adds to confusion and allegations of fraud. I’d advocate for one standard deadline to receive and to count ballots; one policy on what happens when a voter dies after voting but before the election, etc. We’re all voting for the same office – we should be doing so with the same rules. Why aren’t we? You know the answer.

There are times where autonomy and latitude are warranted, and other times where centralization and standardization make sense. The federal election system not only needs the latter, but modernization as well.

Consider whether there is an equivalent in your organization where a process has many players, but no central coordination. Do you have departments onboarding employees according to their own desires? Does the budgeting process vary by location? Is procurement up to the person buying something?

The more complex and distributed a system, the more an overarching strategy is warranted. Put someone in charge of making it happen.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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