“Elections are the way we measure the democratic process,” said Kathleen Hale, associate professor at Auburn University in Alabama. “As technology changes, and the pace of change accelerates, having top skills in the part of our government that measures democracy is critical.” Her university and a number of others are doing their part to help measure democracy better—and otherwise help improve the election process. If you’re a legislator from Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia and a few other states, count yourselves lucky. These states already get help from academia to improve election management.
And if you’re from other states? By reading on, you may feel just a tiny bit jealous—and then motivated to put the town-gown connection to work for the benefit of your state’s voters, election administrators and election policymakers. “Universities are filled with smart people who know how to solve problems,” says Merle King, director of the Center for Election Systems at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University. “Finding a match between that problem-solving capacity and the deadlines and budget constraints inherent to the election process is where the magic is.”
NCSL has gathered examples of “magic” in election-related teaching, research and service—the triad of values at the heart of the mission for most universities. These are followed by a few ideas on how legislators could wave their wands and create similar projects close to home.
Full Article: States and Election Reform | The Canvass: April 2015.