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Although all the continuing discussions broadly address the issue of high- and low-level reform, most donot address the need for continuous improvement of theU.S. election system. And not one has looked for lessonsfrom the one sector that has had plenty of experiencenot just in theorizing about change, but executing it: thebusiness community. If election managers sit down totalk shop with their corporate counterparts, they will seethat they face similar challenges — quality control, staff development, strategic planning and budgeting, cus-tomer service, and, yes, politics. We come by our expertise through work we’ve doneon projects with the Federal Election Commission, theNational Association of Secretaries of State ElectionReform Task Force, the State of Indiana’s Bipartisan Task Force on Election Integrity, the Secretary of the State of California, and election officials in four other states incooperation with the Defense Department’s FederalVoting Assistance Program. We believe that electionreform in the United States is the ultimate change-management project. Similarly, our e-business experi-ence in both government and the private sector leads usto believe that automated-voting transactions are theultimate electronic-commerce test. Unlike other elec-tronic-commerce applications, voting transactions mustremain anonymous as well as verifiable, auditable,secure, and private. Although registration and voting must remain acore public function (like justice and defense), electionadministration can benefit by adopting basic corporatepractices for strategy, organization, and technology.The problems of the last national election involvedmore than technology. And future elections will havecomparable difficulties if change is not initiated acrossall the key dimensions. In the pages that follow, weexamine solutions that can lead to the construction of anelectoral system that can uphold and sustain reform. Although there is no way to completely guard againsterror, sound business approaches that address three key elements — people, process, and technology — willgreatly enhance the planning and execution of reform.(See Exhibit 1.)To avoid the problems of the last election, we needto understand and implement strategic planning andtechnology. To manage this change process, we must:• Apply best business practices to the electoral process• Introduce performance management standards• Reform the voter registration process• Move toward a digital democracy … carefully
Best Practices for Elections
In politics, as in business, the concepts for reform can-not be separated from the mechanisms that deliverreform. Just as the Internal Revenue Service has benefit-ed from a customer-focused approach (reorganizingitself around the needs of distinct individual and corpo-rate segments) whose origins lie in the commercial world, voting reform can benefit from a structure creat-ed with an eye toward customer centricity. When the problem of electoral reform is viewedthrough the lens of best business practices, four basicreform opportunities emerge:
Treat voters like customers.
While maintainingelection integrity, we must remove obstacles that detereligible citizens who do want to vote. This stage of reform— involving straightforward, low-risk opportunities —includes such customer-centric questions as, What fac-tors hinder citizens who want to register and vote? How
(firstname.lastname@example.org)is a vice president with BoozAllen Hamilton in AnnapolisJunction, Md. He has 20 yearsof engineering and consultingexperience resolving commu-nication-systems, information-security, and technology-insertion challenges.
(email@example.com) is asenior associate with BoozAllen Hamilton in AnnapolisJunction, Md. He was theproject manager of, and amajor technical contributor to,the Federal Voting AssistanceProgram’s Voting Over theInternet project.
(firstname.lastname@example.org)is an associate with Booz AllenHamilton in McLean, Va. Hefocuses on improving theperformance of governmentinstitutions and has workedwith one dozen nationalelection commissions overthe last 10 years.Also contributing to this articlewere Booz Allen Hamilton VicePresident Elliot Rosen(email@example.com), VicePresident Chris Kelly(firstname.lastname@example.org), SeniorAssociate David Sulek(email@example.com),Associate Tom VanderVlis(firstname.lastname@example.org),and Associate Matt King(email@example.com).