This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A New Elections Federalism: Dual Election Administration Systems




Fincher, Brandon

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Political Science


Dual election administration systems have a substantial history in the United States with differing characteristics over time and place. A dual election administration system creates categories of voters who are only allowed to vote in particular political races, as compared to a fully qualified voter, who would be able to vote in all the federal, state, and local political races in his or her political district. This research project explores possible explanatory mechanisms for state action to initiate a dual election administration system drawing on theories of policy diffusion and decision making in the policy process. Case studies are generated using qualitative data gathered through primary source interviews and collected secondary source materials from the five states – Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, and Oregon – that adopted this policy between 1995 and 2014 to determine characteristics of states likely to adopt a dual election administration system. This study finds states are likely to adopt a dual election administration system in order to preserve their states’ rules of voter registration when those rules are threatened by federal mandate or court order, especially if the states’ registration policies are seen as beneficial to partisan state officials’ political party. Additionally, decision makers are likely to use limited analysis of the alternatives and the possible effects of a policy change when adopting a dual election administration system at the state level. The study also contributes a decision-making continuum that recognizes normative views in five common decision processes for choosing a policy.