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Digital Democracy -- Strategy and Business (Moon Colony Art)

Digital Democracy -- Strategy and Business (Moon Colony Art)

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Published by Chris Siddall
Strategy and Business Article
Strategy and Business Article

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Published by: Chris Siddall on Feb 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The United States has 12 months to create a voting
system that works the way most people
it was working. A year ago, the general public learned what electionofficials in the United States have long known: Thecurrent setup is a mess. Old machinery, inaccurate regis-tration rolls, ill-prepared poll workers, and convolutedprocedures make it impossible for us to conduct an elec-tion with a completely accurate count. Moreover, theauthority over the election system in the U.S. is so decen-tralized and disparate that no single solution can bringelections closer to what the voting public now demands.But, vote we will — to elect 435 representatives and33 senators this November and a president in 2004.Debate over the subject of electoral reform has beenvigorous but has resulted to date in little change. TheCalifornia Institute of Technology and the Mass-achusetts Institute of Technology responded to whatthey called “a need for strong academic guidelines in theintersection of technology with democracy.” TheNational Association of Secretaries of State pulledtogether a report that reviewed current and proposedelection reform best practices throughout the country.The U.S. General Accounting Office, the NationalCommission on Electoral Reform, and the ConstitutionProject’s Forum on Election Reform all identified topicsfor change. Late last summer, a week after the NationalConference of State Legislatures insisted that statescreate their own electoral-reform guidelines, HouseDemocrats issued a report recommending national stan-dards for elections. Two days later, former U.S. SenatorBill Bradley cautioned about abandoning the status quo.
Election reform in the U.S. is the ultimatechange-management project. One principle mustguide it: Treat voters like customers.
by Mark Gerencser,Ed Rodriguez, and Chris Siddall
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A Strategist’s Plan for Fixing Flawed Elections
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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 
Mark Gerencser
(gerencser_mark@bah.com)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.
Ed Rodriguez
(rodriguez_ed@bah.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.
Chris Siddall
(siddall_christopher@bah.com)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(rosen_elliot@bah.com), VicePresident Chris Kelly(kelly_chris@bah.com), SeniorAssociate David Sulek(sulek_david@bah.com),Associate Tom VanderVlis(vandervlis_tom@bah.com),and Associate Matt King(king_matt@bah.com).

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