The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Shaw Lends Hand to Presidential Commission

Fri, February 21, 2014

Support the Voter Book CoverDaron Shaw’s election expertise was recently tapped through his work with the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. The commission was established by executive order and tasked with making “recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay, and to improve the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency.” In January, the commission delivered its report to President Obama.


Working with Stephen Ansolabehere (Harvard University) and Charles Stewart (MIT), Shaw conducted a national survey of local election officials to systematically ascertain their views about the challenges and successes they had in the conduct of the 2012 general election. Between late August and October 2013, 7,779 local election officials from all 50 states (plus D.C., American Samoa, and Guam) were surveyed, yielding a sample of 3,191 completed surveys (1,856 from town/village/city officials, 1,272 from county officials, 60 from parish officials, and three from state/region officials). The overall response rate was 41 percent, with completed surveys returned from every state except Wyoming.

The commission relied heavily on the survey in formulating its recommendations. Some of those include:

  • Expanding online voter registration;
  • Expanding state collaboration in improving the accuracy of voter lists;
  • Expanding the period for voting before the traditional Election Day and selecting suitable, well-equipped polling place facilities;
  • Deploying state-of-the-art techniques to efficiently manage polling places;
  • Reforms to standard-setting and the certification process for new voting technology.

The academic team that Shaw was part of also helped develop the online Election Tookit, which presents tools for election administrators to avoid polling place congestion and help jurisdictions implement online voter registration. Explore the report, survey, and toolkit at

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