Model Bill: Election Study Task Force

February 9, 2024
Election Reformers Network

Model Legislation Creating Task Force to Study Impartial Election Administration

A bill to provide for the creation of a task force to research and make recommendations regarding expanded capacity and professional independence in election administration. This draft legislation was prepared by the legal team at Election Reformers Network.  

Section 1. Establishment of Task Force

(a) There is a task force on election administration.

(b) The task force shall study what policies or changes in state law may improve election administration capacity and protect public confidence in the professional independence of election administrators.

Section 2. Membership

(a) The task force consists of the following 13 members:

       (1) One former judge appointed by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, who shall serve as chair;

       (2) One member licensed to practice law in the state with experience in election law, appointed by the State Bar Association;

       (3) The state’s chief election official or designee;

       (4) Two representatives of the state association of election administrators, one with election administration experience in an urban jurisdiction and one with election administration experience in a rural jurisdiction;

       (5) Two members who are academics at a postsecondary institute, one of whom has expertise in American political history, and one of whom has expertise in comparative political science, appointed by the governor from a slate of four or more candidates nominated by the president of the state public university system;

       (6) One representative of a nonpartisan civic organization dedicated to improving elections in the state;1

       (7) One unaffiliated or third-party candidate or former elected official, appointed by the chief election official; and

       (8) Four other members, one each appointed by the majority leader in the state house, the majority leader in the state senate, the minority leader in the state house, and the minority leader in the state senate.

(b) To the extent practicable, appointments shall be made to ensure regional, racial, ethnic, economic, and gender diversity on the task force.

Section 3. Duties of Task Force

(a) The task force shall study the present capacity and professional independence of election administration in the state, including but not limited to:

       (1) the sufficiency of election worker recruitment, retention, and capacity to meet future election staffing needs;

       (2) the state of training, credentialing, and professional development in election administration;

       (3) the state of, need for, and sustainability of funding and other resources for election administration;

       (4) the potential conflicts of interest created by partisan or electoral influences on election officials;

       (5) the sources of risks to voter confidence, including any risks presented by such potential conflicts of interest; and

       (6) the state of voter education and engagement between election officials and the public.

(b) The task force shall research policies to address any needs identified in subsection (a) and mitigate or eliminate any risks or the appearance of such risks identified in subsection (a), including but not limited to:

       (1) updating the state budget or updating budgetary processes to ensure adequate and sustainable funding for election administration needs;  

       (2) providing for expanded recruitment, training, credentialing, and/or professional development of election administrators;

       (3) providing for voluntary or mandatory consolidation of certain election-related roles or functions to expand capacity, enhance performance, or leverage economies of scale;

      (4) adopting a code of ethics for senior election officials restricting certain partisan activities, prohibiting conflicts of interest, and/or requiring an oath of impartiality;

       (5) adopting a set of minimum professional qualifications for senior election officials;

       (6) establishing protocols for when election officials may or should recuse themselves in situations of conflict of interest and to whom they should transfer responsibilities because of such recusal;

       (7) creating alternatives for the selection of senior election administration and governance positions that reduce any potential risk of partisan influence; and

       (8) other policies the task force finds will address problems identified under subsection (a).

(c) The task force shall hold at least three meetings or hearings. At least one meeting held by the task force shall be open to the public and provide an opportunity for public comment. The task force shall give public notice of any meeting that will be open to the public at least seven days in advance of the date of the meeting specified in the notice.

(d) On or before September 30 of the year in which this Act is enacted, the task force shall hold its first meeting or hearing.

(e) On or before May 31 of the year following the enactment of this Act, the task force shall provide a preliminary report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and both houses of the state legislature.

(f) On or before December 31 of the year following the enactment of this Act, the task force shall publish a final report of its findings and recommendations, including proposed legislative language implementing such recommendations.

Section 4. Staff and Compensation

(a) The administrative staff of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to elections shall serve as administrative staff of the task force.

(b) The members of the task force listed in section 3(a)(6)-(8) may be compensated according to the annual budget.