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 Why do we use outdated processes?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.