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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Protecting Free and Fair Elections: The Vital Role of Public Administration


Free and fair elections are at the heart of American democracy, and running elections is a core responsibility of public administrators in the United States. The early decades of the 21st Century have been characterized by declining public trust in our nation’s elections, unnecessary barriers to voting, foreign interference, and widespread disinformation. These issues led the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to include “Protect Electoral Integrity and Enhance Voter Participation” as one of our field’s Grand Challenges in November 2019.


To assist the nation with this Grand Challenge, the Academy commissioned a team to conduct a review of electoral practices that can ensure free and fair elections through effective public governance and management. The Academy team developed a shared vision of election administration and identified leading practices for consideration by elected officials and election administrators. The team concluded that effective election administration consists of 3 major pillars:

  • Voter experience,
  • Election security, and
  • Election workforce.

The report is offered with the greatest respect for the work that election administrators do in support of a vital part of American democracy. It has been written for a broad audience, including citizens, elected officials, and election administrators.

The Cooley Fanning Family Fund funded this study. The Study Team received guidance from an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) of Academy Fellows, and MITRE’s National Election Security Lab (NESL) served as a technical advisor.

Focus Area: Elections Grand Challenge

Sponsor: Grant/Philanthropy

Click the button below to view the View Study Report.

View Report


Please direct any questions about this project to Joe Mitchell, Director of Strategic Initiatives & International Programs ( or James Higgins (

For media inquiries, please contact Matt Hampton, Manager of Communications (

Study Fellows