Election Administration Symposium
Bolstering Funding and Practices for Resilient Elections



A collaboration between




Understanding our Elections as a Government Service

American politics is more polarized today than ever before, resulting in many democratic institutions becoming political targets. Local and state election systems are at the forefront—frontline election workers are leaving the field at alarming rates and public trust in election results is deteriorating. As pressure mounts on our state and local election systems, insufficient funding for this vital government service has failed to be addressed, impacting election security and infrastructure.

Join the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate for this two-day conference as we seek to evaluate why the study of our elections funding is so difficult as compared to other government services and hear directly from chief and local election officials on the ground.


Schedule of Events

Over the course of two days, attendees will have the ability to hear from election officials who have worked to manage and administer elections across a region or state, policy experts who have thoroughly researched the administration of our elections, and many more who have boots-on-the-ground experience in these areas.

For guests planning on attending any of the symposium’s Friday sessions, please register to attend by Wednesday, February 14. Guests who register by February 9 will secure their reservation for the luncheon session. No registration is required to attend Thursday evening’s program.



Thursday, February 15

Bolstering Elections Administration: A Conversation with State and Local Officials
featuring Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab and Douglas County, KS Clerk Jamie Shew
introduction by Dole Institute Director Audrey Coleman and Edward M. Kennedy Institute CEO Adam Hinds
7 p.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics | Learn more



Friday, February 16

Welcome & Introductions
with Dole Institute Director Audrey Coleman and Edward M. Kennedy Institute CEO Adam Hinds
9 a.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics


Level Setting: Overview of Election Administration Landscape
with Prof. Mitchell Brown, Auburn University
moderated by Tammy Patrick
9:15 a.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Elections are conducted at the state and local levels, but even this basic statement comes with an explainer about how election administration is different from so many other government services. This introductory session will cover what working with, and surveying of, local election officials has taught us about the variation across the country and the complexity of our election system.


Level Setting: Why is the Study of Election Funding So Difficult?
with Prof. Charles Stewart, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
moderated by Tammy Patrick
10:15 a.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Our election infrastructure is complex and the funding of it is even more so.  This session will discuss why the election funding question is so difficult to answer.


Case Study: Elections in North Carolina
with Prof. Zach Mohr, University of Kansas, and Prof. Martha Kropf, University of North Carolina
moderated by Tammy Patrick
11:15 a.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Focusing on one state can often inform the greater conversation. North Carolina has a wealth of publicly available data and two academics who have been studying it for years will share the challenges their efforts as well as their insights.


A Conversation with Election Assistance Commissioners
featuring U.S. Election Assistance Commissioners Donald Palmer and Benjamin Hovland
introduction by Adam Hinds, CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute
12 p.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics


In Conversation with State Officials
featuring Bryan Caskey, Kansas Elections Director
moderated by Tammy Patrick
1:15 p.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Chief election officials in a state play a key role in elections. This session explores what that role is and how funding is handled at the state level.


The Kansas Connection: In Conversation with Local Officials
featuring Jamie Doss, Saline County, KS Clerk, and Janet Paddock, Franklin County, KS Clerk
moderated by Connie Schmidt, Retired Johnson County, KS Election Commissioner
2:15 p.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Local election officials are often the front-line voter service providers. How are they funded? Is the funding sufficient? What would they do if they had additional resources?


Where Do We Go From Here?
with Matt Weil, Bipartisan Policy Center
moderated by Tammy Patrick
3:15 p.m. CST | Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Funding across the country can vary.  What are some funding models? How might we break the episodic funding cycle? Where might we find sufficient resources to support the greatest democracy the world has ever seen?


The Dole Institute’s Museum and Galleries will remain open until 5 p.m. for attendees who wish to explore the galleries.

Project Partners

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate are named for and inspired by the leadership of two giants of the U.S. Senate.

For decades, Senator Kennedy, a Democrat, and Senator Dole, a Republican, represented the power of bipartisan leadership in supporting a national vision and shared legislative agenda.

The two Senators collaborated across the aisle on many legislative areas, from voting rights and the extension of the Voting Rights Act to disability policy and the groundbreaking civil rights act for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Senators Dole and Kennedy trusted the institution and their Senate colleagues to leverage the power of their constituents into meaningful and lasting public policy for the good of all Americans.


Learn more about the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, and the Bob Dole legacy.


Learn more about the Kennedy Institute and the Edward Kennedy legacy.


Support our ongoing efforts

While this conference will identify many areas in need of change, it is only the beginning of our efforts. Your support will allow us to conduct in-depth research, hold extensive conferences such as this one, and reach Americans in a way that will preserve bipartisanship and civility in our elections.

Plan to attend the conference

Register to attend
This conference is open to the public and free to attend—no payment is necessary to attend posted sessions. However, to adequately plan for our sessions on February 16, we require registration for all attendees. You can register by clicking the button below, or accessing the form here.

Arrange travel to Lawrence
Situated between Topeka—the capitol of Kansas—and the Kansas City metro area, Lawrence is home to much of the state’s and region’s history. Kansas City International Airport is the nearest airport, and is serviced by the nation’s major airlines. We recommend arranging for a rental car or shuttle transportation to Lawrence.

Lodging in Lawrence
There are many choices to choose from when staying in Lawrence. We recommend staying close to the university’s campus or near Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence. The following hotels are recommended by the Dole Institute and the University of Kansas:

The Oread Hotel
($$) 2.3 miles from the Dole Institute | (785) 843-1200

DoubleTree by Hilton
($$) 2.5 miles from the Dole Institute | (785) 841-7077

The Eldridge Hotel
($) 3.3 miles from the Dole Institute | (785) 749-5011

TownePlace Suites by Marriott
($$) 3.1 miles from the Dole Institute | (785) 842-8800

Springhill Suites
($$) 3.5 miles from the Dole Institute | (785) 841-2700

The Dole Institute is committed to universal accessibility in all programs and resources. We are in the process of making all of our web projects fully accessible. An accessible version of the material represented on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact us at to request the material be made available in an accessible format, or for general assistance.