person with suit and tie carrying briefcase running for open exit door

Bipartisan Policy Center Releases Study Results: Turnover Among Election Officials Has Grown by 38% Since 2004

The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., a not-for-profit organization that promotes bipartisanship and provides policy insights and research with the aim of supporting state legislators in passage of laws, has published a recent study which asserts that turnover among election administrators has been growing across the United States. The reasons for such development are multi-fold, and action has to be taken to prepare the country for the smooth conduct of our democratic elections.

The Study

The study entitled, Election Official Turnover Rates from 2000 - 2024, was conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in partnership with Joshua Ferrer and Daniel M. Thompson of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Rachel Orey. The researchers examined the turnover of election administrators during the period of 24 years (2000 - 2024).

The analysis is based on the dataset of 18,644 local chief election officials across 6,290 jurisdictions in 50 U.S. states. According to the study, increased hostility towards election officials, the growing complexity of the role, and an aging workforce are contributing to the increase in turnover, which has grown from 28% in 2004 to 39% in 2022, representing a 38% increase.

Who are Election Officials, and What is the Importance of their Role?

Election officials are essential for the decentralized conduct of elections across the country. They are usually county or municipal employees who administer elections locally. The job of an election administrator has evolved over the years and today is a multifaceted managerial position with many responsibilities, ranging from managing the voter registration system to providing voter education and ensuring the effectiveness of the elections.

Our view at U.S. Vote Foundation: Election officials are our heroes. They are at the front line of the voting process, in charge of making sure that every citizen has access to the information and resources they need to participate in our democracy. They work tirelessly to administer elections. Every voter has an election official, these administrators are the best and most trusted source for voters to answer questions and provide support in the voting process.
The Brennan Center for Justice states, “Today, election officials must be logisticians, cybersecurity experts, communication specialists, legal analysts, and community servants to name just a few of the roles they’re expected to flawlessly fulfill. And this year, many are working seven days a week and through other hardships.” 

Put differently, election administrators have demanding jobs that involve managing election officials who ensure an effective election administration and being responsible for new topics, such as cybersecurity and communication for which they are not technically trained.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the administrative system of conducting elections in the U.S. is highly decentralized, with states having varying regulations. The NCSL states, “The result is that no two states administer elections in exactly the same way, and quite a bit of variation exists in election administration even within states. Each state’s election administration structure and procedures grew organically over many decades as times changed and administering an election became an increasingly complex task.”
In other words, given that each state administers its election slightly differently, having experienced election officials is essential to ensuring the smooth conduct of democratic elections. With the next general election on the horizon, the importance of experienced election administrators is even more vital.

With the adoption of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, the states are now required to “include uniform procedures for voter registration, centralization of voter records and disbursement of funds for the procurement of updated voting equipment and improvement of election administration procedures.”


The Election Official Turnover Rates from 2000 - 2024 Study makes several recommendations to improve the situation:

  • First, the study states, “...strengthening support and resources for new and experienced election officials, including competitive compensation, professional pathways into election administration, adequate training, and enhanced security measures to protect against harassment and threats.”

    Put differently, election officials must be paid well, have attractive career opportunities, enjoy adequate training, and be protected from harassment. Harassment has increased over the years, and the New York Times reported that election officials face continue to face threats.

  • Second, the study recommends, “...enhancing institutional knowledge and experience through professionalization, succession planning, mentorship programs, and the creation of comprehensive election procedure manuals.” In other words, know-how about conducting elections has to be passed on through mentoring programs and manuals to the next general of the election officials.
  • Third, the study calls for “...fostering collaboration and communication between state associations of election officials, federal entities, and other stakeholders to share best practices and address common challenges.” Given such diversity of regulations on the state level, better coordination and communication is need to share best practices.
  • Finally, the study demands “...securing stable funding from both state and federal sources to support the ongoing needs of election administration, recruitment, and workforce development.” Maintaining and growing election administration will be easier with state and federal funding.

U.S. Vote Foundation is deeply grateful for the work of The Bipartisan Policy Center to conduct this profoundly significant study over twenty-four years and for providing the election community with their critically important report.

See the BPC Election Official Turnover Rates from 2000 - 2024 Study

U.S. Vote Foundation promotes election officials as the best source of information and guidance to voters. One of foundation’s goals is to make it easy for voters to connect with their election officials. The Election Official Directory is designed to do just that.

We invite you to look up your election official and send them a note of thanks for their tremendous service.