Mapping Election Administration + Election Science

Assessing the current state of knowledge and practice in election administration.
Mathematical tools, including a compass, a protractor, and a compass, lie on a wooden table on top of paper maps.
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Elections Under Scrutiny

This project comes at a pivotal time in the development of election administration and the study of election science in the United States. 

As public attention increasingly shifts to the nuts and bolts of running elections, the need for unbiased empirical research to inform decision-makers cannot be overstated. Yet the field is still relatively new and comparatively small, especially considering the disproportionate impact election administration has on the workings of our democracy. More work is needed to ensure a robust, useful evidence base is available to guide election officials, policymakers, and the non-profit community. 

About the Project

The Mapping Election Administration and Election Science project is an assessment of the current state of knowledge and practice in seven key areas of election administration. Together with stakeholders from across the field, we hope to reach conclusions about areas where the existing evidence about best policies and practices is clear and also generate a research agenda for the future. 

To help with this consensus-building process, MEDSL commissioned seven white papers from experienced scholars in the field. Each of these white papers covers an area of administration that is critical to the convenience, security, and accuracy of elections in the United States. The papers map out:

  1. the state of the field in the assigned area,

  2. important empirical claims about where there is consensus about best practices, and 

  3. critical needs for research that would close the gap between scientific knowledge and needs in the field.

This project is supported by the Election Trust Initiative.

White Papers

The white papers cover seven individual topics: 


Voting in person

Voting by mail

Voter registration accuracy and security

Poll worker and election official recruitment, training, and retention

Usability and accessibility

Audits and validating election results

Communicating with voters to build trust in the system


All seven are published and available on the MIT Election Lab website at the link below. Brief summaries of each paper are also available. 

More Resources

Video Summaries

In addition to the full papers and summaries, we are pleased to offer short videos featuring the authors of each paper. These videos provide a short introduction to the topic, existing research, and future opportunities that each team identified. 


Reference LIsts

We are also happy to make available the full reference list for each topic. These lists represent a fairly comprehensive literature review of the existing research on each issue, and we look forward to keeping them updated as new resources come to fruition. 


Join the Discussion

To open up the conversation to a wider array of experts, we were delighted to host a two-day convening in September that brought together academics, election officials, policymakers, technologists, and advocates to discuss the current state of election administration and election science research. With drafts of these white papers as a common foundation for the discussion, participants from around the U.S. built consensus around topics for future work and explored opportunities for collaboration between the researchers and practitioners in attendance. 

As this project progresses, we hope to provide further opportunities for the public to provide feedback. Check back for more information if you are interested in participating!