I. In Focus This Week
Director’s Note: Several hundred words from a grateful election geek
Plus FAQ on the future of electionline and Pew’s elections portfolio
By Doug Chapin
As announced a few weeks ago, today is my last day as director of Election Initiatives at the Pew Center on the States. Starting tomorrow, I will be joining the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota to help develop and expand their election program.
After 10 years crisscrossing the country talking about the future of election administration – especially the need for a better-developed system of recruiting, training and recognizing election administrators – it’s incredibly exciting to, in essence, have my bluff called on making it happen.
The best part of the new job is that I will get to keep doing what I love most: work with the women and men across the country who do what it takes to make the American election system function day-to- day – not just on Election Day. You’ll still see and hear from me in all of the old familiar places, and I hope to find new avenues to spread the word about developing an election system that keeps pace with the way Americans live today.
As I depart, however, I can’t help thinking about everyone who has made my 10 years at Pew so deeply rewarding, both personally and professionally. Specifically, I want to thank:
- The Board of The Pew Charitable Trusts for their generous support of election administration reform beginning in 2001 and continuing today. After more than 60 years, the Trusts represent the Pew family’s commitment to a better world - and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to help put that commitment into practice;
- Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of the Trusts, both for being such an ardent public supporter of Pew’s elections work but also for setting a high standard of excellence in everything we say and do;
- Sue Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, who is one of those (sadly, rare) people who manages to bring a potent combination of book smarts, street smarts and a heaping helping of humanity to her leadership of PCS;
- Michael Caudell-Feagan, deputy director of PCS, for being a great guide and mentor and someone from whom I’ve learned to become a passable manager – but mostly for getting to know me well back in 2006 and continuing to work with me anyway;
- Colleagues throughout Pew who I dare not name individually (for fear I’ll forget someone) but who have made ideas, words, things and resources flow when and where they should – making my job easier even as I occasionally made theirs more difficult;
- All of the academics, advocates, vendors, technology experts and others who have been generous both with ideas and criticism through the years – we might not always have liked what one another had to say, but I have learned a lot and I dare say the field of election administration is better off as a result;
- The Election Initiatives team – David Becker, Elyse Berkowitz, Sam Derheimer, Courtney Dozier, Olivia Doherty, Paul Gronke, Tanner Horton-Jones, Emily Huston, John Lindback, Zach Markovits, Scott Melamed, Matt Morse, Carolynn Race, Gita Ram, Alexis Schuler, Charles Stewart, Stacie Temple, Stan Turner and Andreas Westgaard – whose excellence has been a inspiration every day and will make it hard to leave; and
- Of course, my electionline.org colleagues past and present – Sean Greene, Mindy Moretti, Kat Zambon, Alyson Freedman, Aron Goetzel and of course, my longtime friend and co-conspirator Dan Seligson – who have made the last 10 years literally a dream come true in every way.
Finally, a deep and heartfelt thank you to the thousands of election officials and policymakers across the nation for allowing me to be a part of your work. As far as I’m concerned, election administration is the coolest job in America (if not the world) – and I look forward to continuing the journey together.
To all of you – thanks for 10 great years. I can’t wait to see what the next ten have in store.
Ever since the announcement, I’ve gotten several questions about what my departure means for other parts of Pew’s portfolio. As a service to all of you, here are the answers:
Q: What’s going to happen to electionline.org and the newsletter?
A: electionline.org and electionlineWeekly will continue under the steady hand of Mindy Moretti, Sean Greene and my colleagues on the Election Initiatives team. They (and me occasionally as a guest contributor) will still be bringing you the all latest news you’ve come to expect from us.
Q: What’s the future of the Pew elections portfolio?
A: The work will continue at its impressive pace. The success of the Election Initiatives team in our campaigns to reform military and overseas voting and expand the Voting Information Project is well-documented, and we are excited about the future of our efforts to upgrade the nation’s approach to voter registration. We also have some other interesting ideas in the pipeline – like the focus on evidence-based election administration – that you may be hearing more about in the future.
Q: Who’s replacing you at Election Initiatives?
A: I would expect that there will be an announcement soon about the structure of the Elections team; until then, you should use the following contacts:
- General information: Michael Caudell-Feagan
- Research: Sean Greene
- Military/overseas voting: Stacie Temple
- Voting Information Project: Matt Morse
- Upgrading Voter Registration: David Becker
- Evidence-based election administration: Zach Markovits
Q: Speaking of which, how do I contact you?
A: Doug Chapin
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
130 Humphrey Center
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
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