A Republic, If You Can Keep Its Elections Secure, Accurate, and Fair

AuthorMartha Kropf
Date01 November 2020
Published date01 November 2020
Subject MatterArticles
American Politics Research
2020, Vol. 48(6) 667 –669
© The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1532673X20922527
As this symposium goes to print, the United States and the
world are in the throes of a lockdown as we try to control the
exponential growth of the Coronavirus pandemic. Election
administration scholars and policymakers are working to ensure
that the November election will take place as scheduled and
provide legitimate results. Some scholars indicate we will have
real changes in the 2020 election. At a minimum, we will likely
have expanded “vote-by-mail” (Persily & Stewart, 2020).
Twenty years ago, scholars, policymakers, and American
citizens alike held their breath as they waited for results in the
fateful 2000 election. The problems with the 2000 election
provided a focusing event that hailed a variety of election
changes and federal funding for “modern” voting equipment
(Kropf & Kimball, 2012). Replacing aged voting equipment
and voter registration databases stood out as problems 20
years ago, as they do today. Scholars in the field of Election
Science and Administration (ESA) have worked for more cen-
tralized data collection (e.g., Election Administration and
Voting Survey [EAVS]), valid measurement (Burden &
Stewart, 2014), and preservation of both access and integrity
in elections. They continue. In fact, this is a burgeoning area of
scholarly inquiry with crucial links to democracy. This field
has both theoretical import as well as practical application.
“Election Science and Administration” is an interdisci-
plinary and multidisciplinary field. As a key subset of schol-
ars in the fields of political science, public administration,
and public policy have provided development to ESA (e.g.,
Caltech/MIT, 2001; Hale et al., 2015), several new voices—
as well as established voices—have contributed to this sym-
posium. This particular symposium focuses on election
policy issues in the United States because of the American
Politics Research focus, but of course, much of this research
is externally valid.
Along with new voices, this symposium is designed to
showcase a variety of data collection and analytical methodolo-
gies—from experiments, to matching combined with a differ-
ence-in-difference approach, to probabilistic record linkage, to
qualitative research. Some data acquisition required court cases
and/or Freedom of Information Act requests. The symposium
is also designed to provide the reader with short—around 10
pages—manuscripts that scholars and policymakers may con-
sume more quickly. When necessary, more detail is provided in
on-line appendices.
Our pandemic election is not the sole concern as we send
this symposium to press. In fact, as we move through 2020, it is
important to point out that dealing with voter registration data-
bases is an ever-present and on-going concern, particularly
with concerns about foreign interference in elections. That is
what makes the work by Seo-young Silvia Kim, Spencer
Schneider, and R. Michael Alvarez so vital. They have devised
a methodology to analyze databases for suspicious activity.
By-mail elections will require accurate databases. Enrijeta
Shino, Michael Martinez, Michael McDonald, and Daniel
Smith suggest that the voter registration database is a holistic
process. Using a framework derived from survey methodol-
ogy, the scholars show that errors in a voter registration data-
base should be considered in a total survey error framework.
These scholars check Florida’s voter registration database as
they might conduct a telephone survey, but with follow-up
922527APRXXX10.1177/1532673X20922527American Politics ResearchKropf
1University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, USA
Corresponding Author:
Martha Kropf, Department of Political Science & Public Administration,
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd.,
Charlotte, NC 28223, USA.
Email: mekropf@uncc.edu
A Republic, If You Can Keep Its Elections
Secure, Accurate, and Fair
Part of Special Symposium on Election Sciences
Martha Kropf1
We have kept our republic through a variety of localized disasters and various problem elections. The research presented
here highlights the field of “Election Science and Administration” (ESA). Research in our field maximize our probability of
continuing to keep our republic—even in the face of a pandemic which is a national—and international challenge. As the
United States and the world deal with the specter of a pandemic election, the growth of the scholarly field designed to
advocate for transparency in data collection and to improve the quality of elections is more important than ever.
election science, election administration, voter registration

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