The U.S. is the only democracy in the world to select most senior election officials through partisan elections, a system that inevitably creates strong allegiances between officials and political parties they must oversee. We don’t let referees play for one team and we should treat elections officials the same way. While our system may have managed in the past, America has become too polarized to leave our election processes in partisan hands. Recent attempts by extremists to win election posts prove the need for new selection models that ensure professionalism and neutrality. ERN is leading the effort to design broader, more representative state and local election boards and to restructure senior election positions to ensure impartiality.
In 33 states, the chief election official position is held by the secretary of state (or other state officer) who is elected in partisan elections and takes office with allegiance to a political party. No other democracy in the world selects its most senior election officials this way.
This in-depth look at the Canadian model of election administration explains how delegating authority to independent professionals overcame widespread fraud and established a system that won the trust of voters.
ERN’s model qualifications bill offers a legal pathway to ensure that future chief elections officials bring adequate knowledge and expertise to the job – before they get elected.
As a result of the decentralized nature of elections in the United States, election administration structures vary greatly state-by-state. In ten states the state-level leadership is the responsibility of an election board or commission. These types of boards, if structured correctly, can reduce concerns about partisanship in election certification processes.
The Carter Center joins with ERN to release this joint report on how proven models for impartiality in redistricting and the judicial system can be used to ensure that our election leaders are independent, professional, and accountable.
As election administration comes under increasing scrutiny from both sides of the political spectrum, an increasing number of researchers, scholars, lawyers, organizations, writers, and editorial boards have come out in favor of the concept of "impartial election administration."
Though implications for the abortion ballot initiative in November have dominated news coverage of August’s Issue 1, the leadership failure atop the state’s election system should not be ignored. Ohio elections need neutral referees just as much as sports do.
“A politicized, partisan secretary of state can completely distort public understanding of a ballot question through their control of the summary language,” says ERN Executive Director Kevin Johnson.
In this hyper-partisan era, states must take steps to ensure that: a) current officials are protected from threats and intimidation; b) future election officials will act impartially; and c) voters are confident that election administrators are doing their jobs without partisan bias. This ERN policy brief addresses how, including model legislation.
Originally published by The Associated Press. In Arizona, with Hobbs now running for governor, Democrat Adrian Fontes has reported raising more than $2.4 million so far for the election to replace her as secretary of state. Records show his Republican opponent, state Rep. Mark Finchem, has raised more than $1.8 million. The Arizona tally doesn't...
We must remove partisanship from election administration, say voters of all political stripes in a national poll commissioned by Election Reformers Network. The survey asked people’s views on our election system and on changes aimed at bolstering voter trust; 71% believe candidates for election official positions should be required to have experience running elections.
With partisan loyalists aiming to control election administration, it's clear that America's antiquated system of politically affiliated election officials needs reform.
Senior election officials often have to balance political party affiliations on one hand and impartial administration on the other. Our nation’s election officials deserve a better system that makes their neutrality and professionalism clear to all sides.
Although most secretaries of state perform exemplary public service, party allegiances built into these positions make the United States a global outlier in election administration and create risks that need to be addressed.