The Real Stakeholders in How America Votes

Greetings All-

I’m blogging live from the National Association of State Elections Directors Conference, Day-2.  And you can follow us Twittering live from the conference too (@osdv).  A quick comment here; perhaps more as the Day progresses.

There are lots of stakeholders in how America votes.  There’s certainly you and I, citizens of this great country who want to know that we are counted every time we cast a ballot.  But there are others equally important.

And I am referring to the 50 states’ (plus a couple of U.S. territories‘) Elections Directors, their staff, and all elections officials from the counties through the precincts.  These professionals count, and count in a major way, because without them, U.S. elections systems could not function. But there are others.

And I am referring to the (literally) thousands of volunteers who are in the polling place trenches administering the moment-to-moment process of marhsaling the activities of election day.  And this includes a hugely important constituency: the League of Women Voters.  Without this national group’s seasoned organizational and leadership skills in the trenches of polling places, the ranks of voting volunteers could not function. But there are still others, and arguably in this next case, a first among equals in stakeholders.

Last evening at the NASED/NASS Reception, I had the great opportunity to meet Jim Dickson, Vice President, Government Affairs for the American Association of People with Disabilities. AAPD is a vital stakeholder in How America votes, because 19.7% of the U.S. population has a disability of one form or another.  And their access rights to open and fair elections is no different whatsoever from any other U.S. citizen.  Jim has worked tirelessly for three decades to ensure that nearly 20% of the U.S. population is ensured the same rights and liberties of American citizenship and access to the same.

Our master plan incorporates a stakeholder community, that we will soon launch which ensures the work we do is driven by their requirements.  I came to NASED to meet many of these key stakeholders, Jim included.  Although our initial introduction was a bit awkward for reasons not worth blathering about here, the important thing is I have established contact.  And the TrustTheVote Project will be far better for it.  I look forward to having Jim’s advice and counsel on designs and specifications of truly trustworthy, open source, open data, open process, and open standards voting technology.

Indeed, there may be a first among equals.  And they’re led by Jim Dickson and the American Association of People with Disabilities.  May we be so fortunate to earn their respect for our intents and efforts.

Thoughts? Your Ball.

2 responses to “The Real Stakeholders in How America Votes

  1. A friendly word of advice from one who has been involved in the electronic voting debate for many years: Don’t rush to declare who the most important stakeholders or leaders are until you have more experience with them. Some may loudly claim they have all the answers and represent so many that your project’s success turns on unquestioning acceptance of their views. Other knowledgeable and thoughtful leaders may disagree. Give yourself time to hear them all out. If you don’t, you may find that you have unwittingly taken sides in ongoing feuds and alienated people who can help you succeed. That would be unfortunate, since the project’s revolutionary model could render some of the old disagreements irrelevant and bring former adversaries together.

  2. Anonymous’s advice is well taken.  I admit to having a personal commitment to ensuring that special needs citizens and other disadvantaged are remembered in our efforts; I have personal experience with dealing with the needs of someone with disabilities in the family at points in my life.

    But another point worth honing a bit is that indeed, for purposes of getting it right, ensuring an avenue for adoption and sustaining viability of our cause, we have learned over the past year that one stakeholder community that must be front and center in our work is the States’ elections officials — from the State Secretaries Office down through the counties and precincts.

    But indeed, we do not want to "unwittingly take sides in ongoing feuds and alienate people who can help us succeed" as pointed out.  And to that extent, I hope individuals like the anonymous commenter will come forward and offer their advice and guidance.  Our success is predicated on surrounding ourselves with people smarter than us.  Please join us.  You know how to reach me individually, and if not use my initials "gam" and send your message to our domain.

    And I’m sorry I missed seeing this comment or would’ve approved it for posting weeks ago!


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