It’s 2015, months away from the first presidential primary and more than a year away from the presidential election. Election officials often hear, “Must be easy right now between elections, with nothing to do.” Guess again. This “off year” of 2015 will instead be a busy time for the more than 8,000 election officials across the US. Experience shows election officials that the more they prepare, the fewer problems they will encounter in the presidential election year. What happens when there’s failure to adequately prepare? Imagine the chaotic scene in Hartford, Connecticut, where hundreds of voters were turned away because election officials didn’t have registration rolls at polling places in time. Planning ahead to plan and reduce the likelihood of these preventable mistakes must happen now.
A presidential election with no incumbent may increase participation in the 2016 primaries, especially when there are a record number of active candidates. It was the 2012 presidential election that exposed some of the continuing problems in our election processes. The bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA), which heard significant testimony from across the country in 2013, issued excellent recommendations for improving election administration by borrowing from nationwide best practices. If you’re an election official we recommend that you read, reference and use www.supportthevoter.gov, the website where the PCEA report and other corresponding information is available.
The important questions are: Will election administrators take heed in preparation for 2016? Will they be prepared? Will they take advantage of all the resources available to them to prevent problems?