Inside or Outside the Box?

Several times during the election conference I am attending, I have heard the expression “outside the box.” To no one’s surprise, many (but not all) of these comments were directed at me and many of the ideas I have expressed in this blog. Like much jargon, overuse has changed the original meaning of the term. Originally, the term was positive and conveyed innovation. The tone and meaning of this week ‘s comments ranged from “I never thought of it that way before” and “Dude, you are waaay out there.” The latter implying that being “outside the box” is a negative and unsafe place to be. These polar opposite normative takes on the expression appear to echo the attitudes the speakers hold on change (see my previous post “Faster Horses and Election Administration“.)

It occurs to me that those who see being outside the box as dangerous may be drawing the box too small. There is a perception that external constraints, i.e. legislation, regulations, traditions, past practices and fear, compress the size of the “box.” The smaller box is drawn by segments of a wide and varied cast- administrators, legislators, vendors, academics, advocacy groups, and of the political class.

Yesterday a direct question about these kinds of constraints was posed to me and here is my response:

“Election Administration is always performed in the context of statutory and regulatory constraints. Effective administration is able to manage and succeed within any framework. In CA at the moment the statutory and regulatory framework is difficult and arguably overly complicates administration generally and HAVA implementation specifically. Having said that, my position is that these constraints should not be used as an excuse. My past and present experience confirms generous areas in which administrators can and should be using their knowledge, expertise, judgement and discretion to reform or create more effective practices to manage within safely within existing laws and limits. Certainly, administrators acting collectively and collaboratively can influence the changes and reforms to these constraints more effectively than actions by single counties/voices. Unfortunately, administrators tend to be focused on preserving the status quo rather than creating and embracing a vision of what could/should be in a set of future laws and regulations.”

As I penned this response it occurred to me that there is often more room in the “box” than what we see and use. In fact, thinking is seldom truly “outside the box.” The “boxes” we operate in as we administer elections is really a very large “box.” When we realize this and draw the “box” larger, it is much safer to consider new, unconventional and innovative ideas.

To improve the practices and administration of elections, to find solutions to complex issues, to successfully collaborate, share and innovate, we should recognize that our “box” is large and that the constraints of a “box” are largely self-imposed.


A Model Worth Emulation

weirIt has been a couple of weeks since my last post and during that period I have had some significant professional and personal events that have reminded me of the importance of the commitment to continuous improvement, especially when the opportunity to improve and advance is contingent upon recognizing and owning weaknesses and mistakes.

I was prompted to to write this post after reading a tribute to a friend and colleague who has retired after 24 years in the election business- Steve Weir- the Clerk/Registrar of Contra Cost County, CA.  The tribute recognized in Steve a quality that all election administrators should develop or enhance- the ability to say “We made a mistake.”

In a previous post I pointed out the paradox between election administrators’ conscientious commitment to perfection and the benefits of recognizing and learning from mistakes.  It is impossible to improve if mistakes or weaknesses are hidden or unacknowledged.

“… it is understandable for election officials to conscientiously set a high yet unobtainable standard of perfection and to choose not to see or admit to ever falling short of that standard. The price is too high. Yet the adoption of this seemingly noble and highly responsible standard -perfection- has two paradoxically negative and unanticipated outcomes. First, it reinforces an unreasonable and unattainable expectation, among the public, media and politicians, that an election is only acceptably “good” when conducted without issues or errors. Second, the façade of perfection often adopted by election administrators truncates the feedback loop that is a necessary part of the cycle of learning and improving.

The personal cost of publically acknowledging “learning moments” can be unnecessarily high and painful. The unrecognized organizational cost of ignoring or hiding the “learning moments” is even higher.”

In an opinion piece published this past weekend, Lisa Vorderbrueggen, the election beat reporter for the Contra Costa Times wrote in a piece entitled “Weir’s honesty is a model worth emulation”:

“Journalists have a special place in their otherwise cold little hearts for the true public servants who pursue the public good even when it runs counter to their personal interests.

Steve Weir is such a man. He retired Friday after 24 years as Contra Costa County’s election chief and clerk-recorder.

Many people know the diligent Weir for his unyielding political neutrality, his extraordinary kindnesses and his willingness to stand publicly for same-sex partner equality.

But reporters know the former Concord mayor as that exceedingly rare elected official who routinely sent out news releases that detailed mistakes no one knew — and might never have known about.

‘Steve was not only totally forthright when you asked him questions, but he would also tell you things you needed to know, even if it didn’t make him or his office look good,’ said one journalist who covered Weir for many years.

His biggest crisis came when scrutiny over a tight 1996 San Ramon Valley schools tax measure revealed thousands of incorrect or missing sample ballots and the destruction of ballots. Weir ended up in court, and the grand jury published a critical report.

But Weir didn’t duck and cover.

Instead, he moved his desk into the election department lobby and faced the crisis head-on.

Oh, there were still mistakes. Since then, Weir has confessed to everything from ballots mailed to the wrong houses to ballots with missing races to ballots missing altogether.

 ‘I believe you should confess, fix the problem and move on because there is always another mistake waiting, and the next one could bury you,’ Weir said.

Elected officials everywhere would do well to model themselves after Weir: Tell the whole truth early and often. Shoulder all the blame but generously share the credit.  Adopt a ‘give respect, get respect’ approach both inside and outside the office.

These practices are not only the right thing to do; they pay big dividends when it comes to voters’ trust — not a single person challenged Weir in six elections.”

I can’t think of a better tribute to be paid to an election administrator from a reporter.  However, transparancy and honesty are not the only constructive reason to acknowledge shortcomings.  Again from a previous post:

“…errors and mistakes in elections seldom affect the outcomes and should not be considered inherently fatal to acknowledge. The healthy and constructive approach, which I am advocating working toward, is one in which it is safe to acknowledge mistakes and failures for the purpose of learning and improving from them. To do otherwise casts unjustified suspicion on elections and election administrators and inhibits a culture of continuous learning and improvement from which the profession can greatly benefit.”

Stay tuned.

“Measure twice, cut once.” Election Data and Norm Abram

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.  If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it.  If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it. ~ H.  James Harrington

me and normThe pithy maxim “Measure twice, cut once” is the title of a book by one of my heroes- master woodworker, Norm Abram of PBS series “The New Yankee Workshop.”  Silently repeating this advice to myself as I undertake making the cuts for a new woodworking project has saved me countless hours of labor and untold dollars in materials.   Besides the obvious wisdom of double checking a measurement before committing a board to the teeth of sharp saw, there are other critical aspects of measuring to be considered:

  1. The accuracy of the measuring instrument must precise and consistent.  Poorly designed or hastily constructed measuring tools lead to work products of uncertain quality.
  2. The instrument must be calibrated in the right units of measurement.   To make a measurement in inches and fractions, the rule must be in the right units.  A metric rule or a rule incremented in tenths of an inch may be accurate for its respective purpose but is inaccurate if measuring for fractions of inches.  The impulse to simply convert between units of measure with confidence in its accuracy is a fallacy.  Conversion always introduces error and cannot be consistently replicated.
  3. Identical measuring instruments yield different results.  Slight variations in the scale and condition are introduced through use, wear and tear.  The same instrument should be used throughout a project for accuracy and consistency.  Switching instrumentation in the middle of a project introduces unequal lengths and loose joints (error and uncertainty).
  4.  Two craftsmen using the same instrument will measure differently.  Each has his own technique and method of marking.  One craftsman cannot cut with confidence on the measurement made by another unless he knows the method and assumptions underlying the mark of the other.
  5.  The method of recording the measured mark determines its accuracy.  Felt tip markers, carpenter’s pencils, fine lead pencils, marking knives and scratch awls are all common methods for recording a measurement.  Each recording device has its own pluses and minuses and none are the right tool in all cases.  The material being measured and the level of accuracy required determine the appropriate recording device.
  6. Mid-stream shortcuts always lead to mistakes.  During the course of a project and the repetition of tasks, the creative (and lazy) always learn enough to find a way to make the work go faster.  Improving processes and increasing productivity is a good thing unless introduced in the middle of a project.  Changes in techniques or assumptions during a project add complexity and inevitably introduce errors.  Lessons learned and shortcuts are best left for future projects (rather than the current one).

A lot has been made recently of election metrics and it’s about time the idea got some traction in the US elections community.  Doug Chapin has written several times recently about data and metrics and has noted a movement among election administrators to begin to measure, analyze and use data.  What to measure, how to measure it, how to analyze it for meaning and how to leverage it are all questions that need to be asked by everyone.  Unlike the myriad of terms, definitions and meanings found in the fifty + election codes around the country, the answers to these questions must be consistent among the profession to yield meaningful data, comparisons and insights.

In a gallant first cut at collecting, aggregating and analyzing election data from around the country, the Pew released a compilation of comparative election metrics intended to score performance among the states in February 2013 along the lines of the “Democracy Index” proposed by Hether Gerken.  Like good craftsmen, those working on the project had well-tuned saws and sharp chisels.  What they did not have, however, is valid, reliable measures of comparable material recorded using similar assumptions and techniques in the same unit of accuracy with equal accuracy. 

Even where the data were comparable, meanings of the data were not clearly defined.  For example, the meaning to be assigned to the number of provisional ballots cast is ambiguous and contradictory:

“Unless provisional ballots are being given to voters for other administrative reasons, a large number may indicate problems with voter registration records. The meaning of a small number of provisional ballots, from an election administration standpoint, is more open to question. On the one hand, a small number may indicate that registration records are up to date; on the other hand, small numbers may be the result of poll workers not offering voters with registration problems the provisional ballot option when appropriate.” (Pew Center on the States, “Election Performance Index”, February 2013, p. 38) Emphasis added.

The danger of proceeding further into the data-driven world of empirical analysis without clarifying and standardizing definitions, specifying measuring instruments and units of measurement, and formulating measurement protocols (before the fact) is not merely fuzzy research.  Fuzzy research will tell a story to the public and politicians that is not accurate, that is not credible, and which may not be entirely ethical.  The real danger is that policies and decisions will be made on the basis of fuzzy research and careers and reputations will be made and damaged.  The results will be just like an inferior quality, poorly measured woodshop project regardless of the quality of the tools and the earnestness of the craftsman.

The parallels in the art of measurement between my twin passions of woodworking and elections administration are insightful to the present situation.  My point is not to criticize the Pew’s bold undertaking nor is it to put a damper on the emerging enthusiasm and commitment to gathering and using election data.   By pointing to the wisdom of masters of other crafts, I hope to shape the future of data collection and analysis in our craft of election administration.

 “While ‘measure twice and cut once’ is always pithy advice, it more important to measure accurately and to know that you have.”  ~Aldren Watson “Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings”

Stay Tuned

Elections as Rocket Science and Brain Surgery

270px-STS120LaunchHiRes-edit1Finally some discomfort with and discussion of the idea of ambiguity and the notion of accuracy vs precision in elections is beginning to surface. As the purpose of this blog is to trigger thinking and reflection on the administration of elections, I hope that readers will feel free to disagree, agree, pose questions, answer questions and generally engage professionally and intellectually in this forum. With that in mind, I want to respond to some of the questions and points raised in the various comments in this blog.

We continue, as election geeks and critics, to struggle with the idea that a “good” election may not be an error free election and that an accurate election may not be a perfect election. Bill Kelleher points out that what is a “good” election for one person may be a “bummer” for another. That point is well taken but goes to the core problem in evaluating the “goodness” of an election. The current partisan political environment, enflamed by the media and political parties, wants to judge the quality of an election by who the winners are. In contrast, as professionals and scholars, we should evaluate an election as a process and by its ability to provide an unambiguous outcome.

In a previous discussion of accuracy vs precision, I used the example of rocket science so let me offer a spacefaring example as an illustration. While NASA suffered two tragedies during the three decade lifespan of the Space Shuttle program, it also had 133 successful missions. Success in this example is defined as launching into space and returning safely to earth which, when one thinks about it, is a remarkable accomplishment. NASA engineers knew that there were problems during several of the missions (O-ring blow-by and heat shield damage and missing tiles for example) but the existence of these issues did not cause the missions to be considered failures. Only when the issues prevented the safe launch and return to earth were the missions considered tragic failures. Using a medical example, a surgery is considered a success when the tumor is safely removed and the patient recovers. Pain during recovery or the presence of an uglier than necessary scar does not render the surgery a failure.

Elections should be similarly evaluated as rocket science (shuttle launches) and brain surgery (tumor removal). Did the election process yield an accurate and unambiguous outcome despite any issues or problems, real or perceived, which may have occurred? If yes, then the election, like 133 shuttle missions and countless surgeries must be considered “good.”

This standard automatically begs the question raised again by Bill Kelleher “What is ambiguity?” We know that during several shuttle missions, NASA knew that the heat shield was damaged and it was uncertain whether or not the shuttle would return safely. The situation was ambiguous until the shuttle safely returned to earth. Once the ambiguity was resolved, the mission(s) were considered successful. Until there was some means of demonstrating that an error or issue would not affect the outcome, the result remained in doubt and ambiguous. Interestingly in elections, even when election administrators successfully “land the shuttle” there are some who cling to and make an issue of any issues or errors that occurred during the “mission.”

Stay tuned for further discussion on ambiguity.

[photo courtesy of Wikipedia]

Thinking Outside the Lines

“Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.”

~President Barak Obama, Inauguration Speech, January 21, 2013

When President Obama repeated his election night remark that the nation needs to solve the problem of long lines at the polls in his inauguration speech today, I could hear the collective rolling of eyeballs by election officials across the country.

Every election administrator, at one time or another, has received complaints from voters about the length of time it takes to vote and the frustration engendered by waiting in a line to vote. Old news, right?  Based upon the President’s comments and pundit commentary, lines at the polls have become new news and a likely subject of federal debate and legislation.  I believe that this is unfortunate but not for the reasons one may expect.

I have come to conclude that there are really two issues here.  The first issue is the perception that voting is slow and lines are long.  The second issue is the reality that long lines routinely disenfranchise voters who can’t or don’t choose to wait in lines.  Election officials tend to frame the issue as the former and voters, interest groups and parties frame it as the latter issue.  Paradoxically, both perspectives are accurate; part of the problem is perception and part of the problem is reality.  Lines at the polls are another textbook case of the introduction of ambiguity into the outcomes of an election.

The persistence of complaints about waiting in lines to vote, across time and jurisdictions, has it origin in three sources: 1) the paradoxical perspectives on the nature of the problem and official tone deafness to the issue, 2) the inability to measure and quantify what constitutes a line and what constitutes an unreasonable wait, and 3) the failure to recognize that the problem is adaptive and systemic and not a technical problem with a technical solution.

Perspectives.  The reports of lines and delays on election day are usually unverifiable, anecdotal and tend to be reported second hand.  These reports are also made through the media in the midst of voting on election day.  These sensationalized reports predispose voters to show up at the polls with the expectation of having a problem or discourage them from showing up at all.  When there are delays, they are usually isolated to a small number of locations but reports and allegations often generalize lines and delays to be jurisdiction wide.  From the election official’s chair,  one sees sporadic and isolated issues (including lines) arise and get resolved throughout election day.  Voters, parties, candidates and interest groups hear only the media’s reporting or after the fact complaints.  Is it then any surprise that election officials have a different perspective on the issue?

Definition and situations.  What is a line? Our concepts must be reasonable and consistent.  I heard a recent complaint by a voter (who contacted the media) that he had to wait more than an hour to vote.  When asked for details, it turns out the he showed up at the poll enroute to work at 6:00 a.m.  The poll opens at 7:00 a.m.  He did wait an hour to vote but that wait does not indicate any kind of problem at the poll for him or other voters.  In another situation, the first day of early voting – two weeks before election day, several hundred voters wanted to cast their ballot early.  It took many of the voters an hour to vote that first day.  When a voter chooses an alternative mode of voting and there are other locations, days and times to vote; does an hour constitute an unreasonable burden on the voter?

In a general election, a jurisdiction with a bond proposal on the ballot failed to inform voters or provide them with information with which to make a decision.  Most of the voters saw the lengthy bond language for the first time in the voting booth and spent 20-30 minutes, in some cases, to read and consider the bond.  This resulted in a line of voters, who had already been checked in and who had a voting card, waiting for a voting machine for 45 – 60 minutes.  In another election, I observed a line at an early voting location that wrapped around the building but only one or two of the 15 voting machines was ever used at the same time.  The wait was at the check in table, getting voters signed in, not at the voting machine.  On another occasion, I heard a complaint that some voters were being processed immediately while others had to wait a half hour or more to vote.  Instead of some voters being favored over others, that location had a cumbersome method for processing provisional voters.  The delay was limited to voters whose eligibility could not be immediately determined.  Rather than hold up everyone, these voters were diverted to a separate table for processing.  To be fair, many cases in which I have observed or heard of delays in voting were not as nuanced; there was, in fact, a resource or process issue that created delays.

All of these situations represented voter delays but all the situations are not equal in their cause, their solution or, most importantly, in their impact on an individual voter.  At times, when faced with such reports, the issue of lines is willingly acknowledged and investigated by officials intent upon finding a solution.  Sometimes officials deny there was a problem and/or that complaints could not be verified.  Sometimes officials acknowledge a problem but claim they are resource constrained and can’t do anything about it.

Adaptive and systemic problem-solving.  So I pose the question once more, what is a line?  The absence of definitions, criteria, standards and without data or reliable observations, the question cannot accurately be answered.  Similarly, without this information, even the best-intentioned and conscientious election officials can’t do much more than apply band aids and short term fixes.

This leads to the third source of the persistence of the issue of voting lines and delays and the reason I think it would be unfortunate if the federal government were to mandate an ultimate, silver-bullet solution.  The problem is not a technical problem.  Mandating additional machines will not solve the problem when it is caused by check-in processes.  More workers won’t solve the problem when there is a shortage of functioning equipment.  Neither will solve delays that are caused by legislative requirements (voter ID), language barriers, election schedules, ballot crowding, lack of voter information, voter mis-information, unsatisfactory polling facilities and so on.

The problem of lines and voting delays is an adaptive and systemic problem that can only be resolved by solutions which acknowledge a willingness for change, which address system-wide variables and which are based upon facts, data and measurable outcomes.  The solution for each jurisdiction is inherently different as the causes and the magnitude of lines differs from large to small jurisdictions, from urban to suburban counties and from jurisdictions with permissive absentee and early voting regimes to those who rely mainly on election day for voting.  A one-size solution, whether imposed by the federal or state government, will fail and further contribute to the on-going problem of election day lines and the potential disenfranchisement of voters.  In allowing others to solve local issues, we will continue to suffer from the ambiguous (mis)perceived impact of lines on the outcome of elections.

Most of the recurring challenges and problems faced by election officials (and public administrators generally) are adaptive and systemic problems which can only be resolved by long-term solutions.  These types of problems are highly resistant to technical fixes like those described above.  There are a range of approaches, collective and individual, for addressing issues systemically to achieve specific outcomes and foster continuous processes: Lean, Six Sigma, TQM, TOC, Adaptive Leadership, etc.  Each approach has its strengths and I have found are used best in combination to develop quality management and learning environments.

It would behoove all jurisdictions to develop competencies and practices of solving problems systemically, using data and  performance metrics, and by developing a willingness to do things differently to get different (and better) outcomes.   In fact, adaptive leadership and continuous improvement approaches in election administration are the only way to eradicate ambiguity and improve the “goodness” of elections.

Stay Tuned.

January 23, 2013 Update:  Doug Chapin in today’s Election Academy blog post discusses a report issued by the Orlando Sentinal on the potential impact of line in Florida during the 2012 election.  I agree with Doug’s analysis when he says:  “These numbers are pretty spectacular (and not in a good way), and yet it would be helpful to have a little more detail on the conclusions than a very short – and very general – methodological link so we can dig into the analysis.”

Professor Allen’s estimate of the number of voters that failed to vote as a result should be looked at with skepticism until other scholars have the opportunity to review the data and methodology.  Hopefully Professor Allen will make the data available.

While this study describes the problem with delays in voting and suggests the potential magnitude of the issue, it offers little in terms of solutions.  Because such lines were not uniformly experienced across precincts in the state, the next step would appear to be a study of the cause(s) of lines in some places and not in others.  Such a study would provide election administrators the empirical data they need to craft adaptive solutions to the problem.

Really Scott? Really?

Based upon feedback on the previous post from someone whose judgment I trust implicitly and whose opinion I value greatly, I want to briefly clarify a point I attempted to make.

There is nothing acceptable or excusable about an election that is mismanaged, rife with errors and which creates doubt about the outcome of the vote. A poorly conducted election in one jurisdiction has immediate short-term and long-term repercussions for other jurisdictions; there is a decrease in confidence by the public, increased scrutiny by the media and legislatures inevitably pass new laws to solve isolated problems of the past. Put more plainly, when errors occur; the public is outraged that their vote may not have been counted, the losers are not convinced they lost, the media has a heyday and political leaders sanctimoniously pontificate and then legislate.

As a result, it is understandable for election officials to conscientiously set a high yet unobtainable standard of perfection and to choose not to see or admit to ever falling short of that standard. The price is too high. Yet the adoption of this seemingly noble and highly responsible standard -perfection- has two paradoxically negative and unanticipated outcomes. First, it reinforces an unreasonable and unattainable expectation, among the public, media and politicians, that an election is only acceptably “good” when conducted without issues or errors. Second, the façade of perfection often adopted by election administrators truncates the feedback loop that is a necessary part of the cycle of learning and improving.

The personal cost of publically acknowledging “learning moments” can be unnecessarily high and painful. The unrecognized organizational cost of ignoring or hiding the “learning moments” is even higher.

Back to the point I want to clarify; errors and mistakes in elections seldom affect the outcomes and should not be considered inherently fatal to acknowledge. The healthy and constructive approach, which I am advocating working toward, is one in which it is safe to acknowledge mistakes and failures for the purpose of learning and improving from them. To do otherwise casts unjustified suspicion on elections and election administrators and inhibits a culture of continuous learning and improvement from which the profession can greatly benefit.

In many ways, this clarifying post is a case study in the learning and improvement cycle I have tried to describe above.

Stay tuned.

Accuracy vs Precision

In my last post, I offered a definition of a “good” election: A “good” election is an election without ambiguity. Some concepts are so broad or complex that they are best defined by what they are not. This is the case, I believe, with elections but further explanation is appropriate. In saying that a “good” election is an unambiguous election is not to say that a “good” election is a perfect election.

There are distinctions we easily make in everyday life such as cleanliness does not require sterility or accuracy does not demand precision. For most things in life, cleanliness and accuracy are all that are needed and expected. Brain surgeons and rocket scientists do, however, expect sterility and precision and they need to know when there is an exception to those states.

Elections are not really brain surgery or rocket science but we tend to think of them in that way in as much as we unreasonably expect the higher standard of sterility and precision over cleanliness and accuracy. No election administrator wants to set an expectation of anything less than perfection. To do otherwise appears lazy, sloppy and irresponsible not to mention politically dangerous. The standard of sterility and precision are sirens songs which lead to false priorities and the acceptance of ambiguity.

I know many hold the view that errors should never be acceptable when it comes to elections. That is an unreasonable standard to which that science doesn’t even hold itself. While recently reading a scientific text on social science research, I came upon a quote that I think is relevant to this topic. The authors, in a discussion of the nature of science, disclose that “…theories do not have to make precisely accurate predictions to be judged as scientifically useful….There is always some degree of error.” (Royce A. Singleton 2010)

Every election- even “good” elections have issues, errors or oversights. I like to call l these things euphemistically “learning moments.” The difference between a baimage014d election and a “good” election is whether or not the learning moments introduce ambiguity in the outcome of the election. Florida in 2000 is the obvious case of ambiguous election results created by chad and the butterfly ballot but ambiguity is not always so obvious.

Here is a list of common situations that often lead to ambiguity in elections:
• Ballot errors and poor ballot design,
• Delays in mailing ballots,
• Last minute changes to polling locations,
• Poorly trained poll workers, inadequate staffing,
• Absence of adequate and documented procedures for key election activities,
• Disregard of documented procedures,
• Inconsistent application of signature verification standards, provisional ballot adjudication and voter intent interpretations,
• Poor testing protocols and testing documentation,
• Inadequate security and chain of custody,
• Weak or absent capability to audit or reconstruct election events,
• Inability to statistically describe and document the election,
• Inability to replicate election processes from one election to the next,
• Inability to consistently estimate or calculate the actual cost and expense of an election,
• Responses to unforeseen election day events.

The presence, itself, of any one or more of these examples does not prevent an election from being judged as “good.” An election cannot be considered “good” when the effect of these situations introduces doubt and ambiguity and raises questions that cannot be adequately addressed.

An election that avoids learning moments and ambiguity by sheer luck and good fortune (rather than by effective procedures and management) is not, by definition, a “good” election.

A discussion of leveraging and overcoming “learning moments” is always in order.  I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Work Cited
Royce A. Singleton, Jr. and Bruce C. Straits. Approaches to Social Research. 5th. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.