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Nine Academic Grants Will Generate New Research on the Election Workforce

Washington, DC — Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center announced the funding of nine new research projects under an academic grant program to generate new findings on election administration recruitment, retention, and training.

Advised by our Election Workforce Advisory Council, these projects will investigate a variety of challenges facing the elections workforce including turnover, emerging technologies, funding, public trust, ethics, state policy, diversity, and threats against election workers. The findings will build an important empirical foundation for long-term, evidence-based solutions to election workforce challenges, and final research reports will be published in late 2024 and early 2025. 

The Election Workforce Advisory Council is a joint project of the Bipartisan Policy Center and The Elections Group. The council brings together election administrators, academics, experts, and industry representatives to develop and implement best practices to improve recruitment, retention, and training in election administration. 

The grant program is supported by the Election Trust Initiative, a nonpartisan grant-making organization working to strengthen the field of election administration, guided by the principle that America’s election systems must be secure, transparent, accurate, and convenient. 

The projects include: 

Analysis and Response Toolkit for Trust for Local Election Officials (ARTT-LEO): A Pilot Training Model for De-Escalatory Dialogue and Connective Communication in the Election Information Ecosystem. In collaboration with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, this project pilots a training curriculum to build election officials’ capacity to engage and communicate with the public.  

  • Connie Moon Sehat, Ph.D. (Hacks/Hackers) 
  • Thessalia Merivaki, Ph.D. (Mississippi State University) 
  • Karen Brinson Bell (North Carolina State Board of Elections) 
  • Trena Parker Velez (North Carolina State Board of Elections) 

Cultivating Resilience in Election Administration by Impacting the Policy Landscape. This project assesses the impact of election policies passed since 2016 on local election officials and examines the roles of local election officials and their state professional associations in policymaking. 

  • Joseph Anthony, Ph.D. (State University of New York at Cortland) 

Evidence and Strategies for Diversity in Election Administration. This project investigates the relationship between diverse representation in election offices and citizen perceptions of election performance, trustworthiness, and fairness to inform recruitment efforts in election offices. 

  • Alicia Barnes, Ph.D. (Kennesaw State University)  
  • Bridgett King, Ph.D. (University of Kentucky)  

Guardians under Pressure: Examining the Dynamics of Challenges, Empowerment, and Turnover Intentions Among Local Election Officials. This study investigates how resource scarcity, safety concerns, and political interference affect local election officials’ psychological empowerment and subsequent turnover intentions. Additionally, the study explores the role of public service motivation in mitigating the negative impact of environmental challenges on psychological empowerment, which in turn influences turnover intentions. 

  • Yuguo Liao, Ph.D. (University of Missouri, St. Louis) 
  • David Kimball, Ph.D. (University of Missouri, St. Louis) 

Listening to the Stewards: Workforce and Budget Challenges Facing Local Election Officials. Expanding on the annual Elections and Voting Information Center Local Election Official Survey, this project examines forces driving retention and turnover in local election offices through qualitative interviews on training and development, succession planning, workplace settings, and budgets. 

  • Paul Manson, Ph.D. (Portland State University) 
  • Paul Gronke, Ph.D. (Reed College) 

Needs Assessment for Election Official Ethics Training and Support.  Focusing on five states, this project analyzes election officials’ perspectives on ethics issues they face in their work and ethics-related training and support they recommend for their states and nationally.

  • Heather Balas (Election Reformers Network) 
  • Amber McReynolds (Election Reformers Network) 
  • Kevin Johnson (Election Reformers Network) 

Retention and Resiliency of Local Election Officials. This project investigates whether increasing election official pay and consolidating elections reduces turnover and assesses the experience levels of incoming election officials. 

  • Joshua Ferrer (University of California, Los Angeles) 
  • Daniel M. Thompson, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles) 

Study of the Evolution of Election Technology and Impact on the Election Administration Workforce. This project traces the role of technology in election administration since 2000 and assesses its long-term impacts on election worker outcomes, workforce practices, recruitment, and retention.  

  • Duha T. Altindag, Ph.D. (Auburn University) 
  • Mitchell Brown, Ph.D. (Auburn University) 
  • Kathleen Hale, Ph.D. (Auburn University) 
  • Alan Seals, Ph.D. (Auburn University) 

Understanding the Impact of Hostility on Election Officials and Democracy Over Time. Building on the Understanding Threats and Harassment Against Local Officials (UTH) research program, this project monitors and tracks threats and harassment against election officials to inform policy solutions to address safety issues and improve retention. 

  • Amy Iandiorio (Bridging Divides Initiative, Princeton University) 
  • Roudabeh Kishi, Ph.D. (Bridging Divides Initiative, Princeton University) 
  • Shannon Hiller (Bridging Divides Initiative, Princeton University)

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