Lindsay Nielson is a researcher at Fors Marsh Group, where she works with federal clients to conduct research and data collection projects to better understand the state of American elections and voting. She is an expert on voting behavior and election administration, and her research on topics, such as voter identification, voter privacy, polling place lines, and congressional elections, has been published in multiple academic journals. Dr. Nielson holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, San Diego, and has taught courses on American politics at Bucknell University and the University of San Diego.
On Tuesday, January 14, Fors Marsh Group’s (FMG) election experts will participate in the United States Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) 2020 Election Summit. The summit gathers the nation’s election community for lively discussion on key issues such as ensuring accessibility for voters with disabilities and securing the process against outside threats.
As trusted advisors to the EAC for four years, FMG has been at the forefront of improving data collection and research for the American election community. At FMG, we believe improving the quality of our elections is integral to creating real systemic change that positively impacts the world. We are excited for the insights to come from this year’s summit, as they reinforce and guide our future election improvement efforts.
FMG’s Notable Election Improvement Efforts
Quality and Complete Election Administration and Voting Data
In 2018, FMG worked with the EAC in two key ways to transform the Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS)—the agency’s flagship data collection on information about state and local election administration nationwide. First, FMG introduced an option to complete the survey online, allowing state and local election officials to upload data on registration, voting, and voting technology more easily. This also resulted in a marked increase in the completeness and quality of the EAVS data. In addition, FMG assisted with the redesign of the former Statutory Overview—a summary of state election laws and policies—into an online Policy Survey that is both easier for states to complete but also yields more useful data for election officials and researchers.
Election Data Visualization
The EAC turned to FMG to create data visualization products that rely on EAVS data to illuminate the state of American election administration. In both 2016 and 2018, FMG worked with the EAC’s research team to develop an “EAVS online interactive,” which allowed users to see election information from their own community and provided users the capability to compare that data with communities across the nation. This online interactive allows users to explore the data and place individual election jurisdictions into a larger regional or national context, or to find election jurisdictions that are similar in size or voting rates. This will help election officials, policymakers, advocates, and others have a better exchange of ideas and solutions to improve the election process.
Language Accessibility Resources
FMG supports the EAC’s clearinghouse function with products such as the recent policy brief on language accessibility, which explains the federal laws surrounding language access requirements and highlights the best practices across the country—including outreach, design and in-person assistance—to ensure that all voters can get voting materials in a language that they can easily understand. Other policy briefs are in the works, and FMG looks forward to the opportunity to assist the EAC with new products in 2020 and beyond.
Election Security Instructional Videos
Leveraging EAC’s existing materials to assist states in the important field of election cybersecurity, our team of election administration experts worked with numerous states to produce a customized version of the election security videos. These customized videos are used to educate and reassure voters that the voting process is both well-protected and well-designed.
What to Expect from FMG Elections in 2020
As a new election cycle launches, FMG is once again the EAC’s implementing partner for the 2020 EAVS. We will continue to provide support to the national election community with comprehensive data, insightful analysis, and other products aimed at helping state and local election offices fulfill their mission of ensuring that all eligible Americans have an opportunity to register and vote. The EAC and FMG are diligently preparing for the 2020 EAVS, and we look forward to sharing exciting new developments soon. This year will be an exciting and challenging year for the nation’s election officials—and FMG is proud to work alongside the EAC to be a part of that process.