December 16, 2008

Election Administration as a Profession

According to the Congressional Research Service, unlike more established professions like public health management and law enforcement, election administrators have few professional development resources at their disposal. Furthermore, the typical local election official in America is a white woman between 50 and 60 years old who is a high school graduate. She was elected to her current office, works full-time in election administration, has been in the profession for about 10 years and earns under $50,000 per year. Two thirds are elected rather than appointed.

The profile of election administrators is changing rapdily. The field is experiencing a turnover rate of about 10 percent each election cycle. From 2004-2006, local election officials who: 1) were elected decreased from 65 percent to 58 percent; 2) worked full-time increased from 66 percent to 76 percent; and, 3) spent more than 20 hours per week on election duties increased from 41 percent to 47 percent. Those who had served for more than a decade in their current position decreased from 47 percent to 44 percent and those earning a salary under $40,000 decreased from 47 percent to 39 perecent.

(Source: The PEW Center on the States - Make Voting Work, "Data for Democracy.")

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