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How We Vote: Innovation in American Elections, Kathleen Hale and Mitchell Brown

Reviewed by Thessalia Merivaki

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Running elections in the United States is a complex enterprise because of the hyper-federalized structure of election administration, in which state governments regulate the conduct of elections, local election officials implement election policies, and the federal government gradually expands its oversight on key election areas. Elections are often messy and operate under high levels of uncertainty, from inadequate human and financial resources to unforeseen disasters. In spite of these uncertainties, the world of elections offers plenty of opportunities for innovation at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as professionalization.

In How We Vote, Kathleen Hale and Mitchell Brown showcase that with commitment to expanding access to voting comes great complexity in designing and maintaining free, safe, and secure election processes. Using a theory of change framework, the authors argue that innovation takes place under four conditions: politics, need, resources, and professionalism. These conditions are a catalyst for innovation depending on the specific context within which they exist. Innovation is voter-centric and technology-driven and can take time, as shown through the examples of minority language assistance programs (p. 136) and risk-limiting audits (p. 157). These examples offer important insights as to the critical role that intergov

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