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The Effect of Administrative Burden on Bureaucratic Perception of Policies: Evidence from Election Administration

Authors

  • Barry C. Burden,

    1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
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    • Barry C. Burden is professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is author of Personal Roots of Representation (Princeton University Press, 2007) and coauthor, with David C. Kimball, of Why Americans Split Their Tickets: Campaigns, Competition, and Divided Government (University of Michigan Press, 2002). His primary research interests are electoral politics, public opinion, and representation.E-mail: bcburden@wisc.edu

  • David T. Canon,

    1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
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    • David T. Canon is professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His teaching and research interests focus on American political institutions, especially Congress. His books include The Dysfunctional Congress? The Individual Roots of an Institutional Dilemma (Westview Press, 1990), Race, Redistricting, and Representation (University of Chicago Press, 1999), and American Politics Today (W. W. Norton, 2011), in addition to several edited volumes and various articles and book chapters. He recently completed a term as Congress editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly.E-mail: dcanon@polisci.wisc.edu

  • Kenneth R. Mayer,

    1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
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    • Kenneth R. Mayer is professor of political science and affiliate faculty in the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is author, with David T. Canon, of Dysfunctional Congress? The Individual Roots of an Institutional Dilemma (Westview Press, 1999) and author of With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power (Princeton University Press, 2001). Over the last several years, he has been active as consultant and expert witness in redistricting, voter identification, and campaign finance litigation. E-mail: kmayer@polisci.wisc.edu

  • Donald P. Moynihan

    1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
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    • Donald P. Moynihan is professor of public affairs in the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research examines the application of organization theory to public management issues such as performance, budgeting, homeland security, election administration, and employee behavior. He is author of The Dynamics of Performance Management: Constructing Information and Reform, which was named best book by the Academy of Management's Public and Nonprofit Division and won the American Political Science Association's Herbert Simon award.E-mail: dmoynihan@lafollette.wisc.edu


Abstract

This article argues that administrative burden—that is, an individual's experience of policy implementation as onerous—is an important consideration for administrators and influences their views on policy and governance options. The authors test this proposition in the policy area of election administration using a mixed-method assessment of local election officials. They find that the perceived administrative burden of policies is associated with a preference to shift responsibilities to others, perceptions of greater flaws and lesser merit in policies that have created the burden (to the point that such judgments are demonstrably wrong), and opposition to related policy innovations.

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