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March 27, 2023 ABA Task Force for American Democracy

Securing 2024: Defending US Elections Through Investment and Reform

Alliance for Securing Democracy


This report recognizes that state election administrators, who are tasked with the impartial supervision of elections, are often selected through a partisan process. The report argues that these partisan selection methods can pose a threat to the free and fair administration of elections. In response, the report examines Judicial Nominating Commissions and Redistricting Commissions as potential models for its proposed recommendation: the creation of Election Official Nominating Commissions. 

Key Findings/Messages

The U.S. is the only country in the world that elects its election officials. While most election officials do administer elections in a non-partisan manner, one recent study of democratically elected Secretaries of State (who, among other duties, administer state elections) found evidence of bias. The study found 29% of the secretaries had endorsed a candidate in a race under their supervision and 20% had lost a lawsuit arising from circumstances where the secretaries’ actions had appeared to favor their political party. Judicial Nominating Commissions and Redistricting Commissions are widely accepted and designed to reduce partisan influence in the selection of judges and legislative districts. These commissions can serve as a model for similar reform in the selection of election administrators.

Key Recommendations Made

  1. States should make the state chief election official position nonpartisan.
  2. States should consider establishing broadly representative election official nominating commissions to select nonpartisan chief election officials and other positions.
  3. As an alternative to nominating commissions, nonpartisan elections for chief election officials should be established carefully.
  4. State election boards should be redesigned to reduce control by party-affiliated members, leveraging lessons from independent redistricting commissions.
  5. Reforms should strengthen the authority of state election officials and establish their roles in state constitutions. 6. At the local level, states should consider a nominating commission role for some local election positions and should carefully increase the use of nonpartisan elections.