Representative Bureaucracy and Partisanship: The Implementation of Election Law



Studies of representative bureaucracy argue that public administrators hold attitudes that are generally representative of the public and will implement policy in accordance with those attitudes. However, studies of representative bureaucracy generally have not considered the partisanship of local administrators. Many local election officials affiliate with a political party, and there is concern that partisan officials will manipulate election procedures to help their party. The authors analyze a survey of local election officials about their attitudes toward provisional voting. Findings show that Democratic local election officials have significantly more positive attitudes toward provisional voting programs in highly Democratic jurisdictions and significantly less positive attitudes in highly Republican jurisdictions. No such relationship occurs for Republican administrators. In addition, positive attitudes toward provisional voting are associated with more provisional votes being cast and counted in the 2004 presidential election. This work questions whether representative bureaucracy—when it concerns partisanship—is always a desirable outcome.