A Virtual Trip Across America

Hello, everybody. I hope that this past Memorial Day weekend each of you had the chance to relax and took a moment to appreciate our troops. While many Americans were traveling across the country for Memorial Day celebrations, I was completing a virtual trip of my own.

For roughly the past two weeks, I have been compiling a database of election officers throughout the United States, excluding the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As of present, this database consists of 3,748 email addresses. During this process, I was assisted by several resources, the most valuable being the online United States Election Assistance Commission which featured direct links to each state’s election website.

Though I knew the execution of elections was relegated to the states, going into this venture, I assumed the election process would be fairly standardized. I soon discovered this was not the case. As a result, I have had to reconsider the nature of  my sample and survey questions.

Throughout much of the United States, specifically, the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast, the chief election officer is the county clerk. The county clerk is tasked with overseeing all elections in their county. This varies in some states such as Texas where the chief designated officer can also be the county tax assessor or registrar. However, not all states follow this pattern of county organization. In New England states such as New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut, election officers are not divided by county, but rather by town or municipality. As a result, I recorded a disproportionate amount of New England contacts  into my database. This will be taken into account when selecting my random sample.

The process of collecting contact information was admittedly tedious at times, but also deeply interesting.  Some state websites offered a general spreadsheet of officer information that allowed me to easily record emails. However, other state websites were incredibly unorganized with records that were outdated, forcing me to go to individual county websites for more accurate information. During this process, I noted that the most organized websites and systems appear to  belong to battleground states which carry the largest number of electoral votes. Therefore, I wonder if this organization will carry over to other aspects of these states’ elections. Perhaps this will appear when I’m further investigating about HAVA’s impact within the disabled community.

Comments

  1. Being from Maine, I find it interesting that we have chosen to divide our election officers by town or municipality rather than by county. The only reason for which this might make sense in my mind is that Maine is such a large state but carries a very small population that can be very spread out throughout northern Maine in particular. So maybe while we have more election officers, it isn’t due to a large number of voters, but rather a large territory in which few voters come from. I’m not sure that this concept can be carried over to the other New England states as they are smaller and have larger populations, but nonetheless I find it interesting that this trend holds throughout New England and not the rest of the country.