I am delighted (and slightly nervous…) to launch this website about electoral management. The running of elections has been a long-held interest of mine since 2000 when the UK led the world with some innovations with postal and electronic voting. At the time it struck me how much research there was on voter behaviour or the effects of electoral systems, but so little on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of elections.
Over 15 years later, the world has moved on. Biometric voter registration is taking place in parts of Africa. Published league tables of electoral administrators have been introduced in the USA. International networks of electoral administrators have emerged and consolidated. Yet, there remains relatively little research on work effects these and other policies have. At least, that is certainly the case outside of the US, where the infamous 2000 Presidential sparked a plethora of books, journal articles and comment about how elections could work.
The idea of the website is therefore (initially) to profile my own (individual or co-authored) research about electoral management with the aim of making it more accessible to policy makers around the world. All too often research is hidden away in expensive journals and academics are in ivory towers. Research and researchers are most important when it is useful to the world: when it can help government write better election laws, help pressure groups hold governments to account, help electoral management bodies spend their resources more efficiently and look after their hard working staff.
At the same time, academics need contact with those running elections to keep them abreast with what is happening in the real world. Teaching, administration and many other duties often mean a piece of legislation is passed or an innovation is launched without them keeping uptodate. Anything that can be done to closen the links between researchers and practitioners can only be good.
I am very grateful to the University of East Anglia for funding this website and project. In time, there will be scope to include the research of the many other scholars who are now researching in this vitally important area. I have been very lucky to work with world leading researchers such as Alistair Clark, Holly Ann Garnett, Carolien Van Ham and Leontine Loeber.
In the meantime, please get in touch with questions, information, suggestions or criticisms. All comment is welcome!