Sunday, February 23, 2014 0 comments

No Lines Here!

This week, I received some LinkedIn notices of congratulations for my anniversary as an MBA faculty member at Baker University.

(Note to self--I've been doing that for eight years now; time to purchase an orange Baker Wildcats sweatshirt).

It got me thinking of the selection process years ago, and that led to some linkage with election events this week.

One of the components of the selection process was to deliver a short 10-minute presentation on any topic so that the evaluators could get a gauge of my presentation approach, style, and interaction with participants.

I'd been at the election office for about a year when I did this and rather than trove through my Sprint presentation collection, I decided to create a presentation on voter participation.

I'm not sure I had a grounded position on voter turnout and participation before I came to the election office.  It's a much more complex topic than it might seem on the surface.  The short presentation was just a summary of points others raise when discussing turnout.

Often, for instance, in spring elections particularly, turnout is very low.  Usually, turnout is less than 15 percent and, more likely, less than 10 percent.

Such turnout rates evoke criticism of our voters, and I'm not down with that.  I'm a believer that compelling races, compelling issues, and compelling candidates attract voters.

I once heard my smart colleague Dean Logan of Los Angeles County say that the number one objective for an election administrator is to increase voter turnout.

I see the logic of that.  He may be right.  I definitely think that's correct if turnout can be increased universally.

I'm more of the view that for those who are inclined to vote, my job is to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.  Blanketed messages to all voters, I think, is the role of our office, but, personally, I get uneasy concerning targeted approaches to improve voter participation.

There are the cliches in turnout--young people don't vote, for instance--that I think are often unvalidated or maybe self-perpetuated.  Any election office resource targeting one type of voter might eliminate resources to assist others, potentially excluding voters in the name of inclusion.

More importantly, if I were to target get out the vote messaging to a specific age group, or area of the county, I could be inadvertently stirring the outcome of an election and I don't want any part of that, Dewey!  I'm not smart enough to know what motivates our voters.

I'd rather leave the targeting to those who have a vested interest in the outcome and just make sure that our home has as many "Welcome" mats as possible for guests who decide to check in.

(As an aside, as a teaser to my eventual post related to voters with disabilities and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, I've often pondered if the fact that older citizens are more likely to vote AND also more likely to be election workers are related.

Human nature, I believe, leads people to associate with others like them.  We feel more comfortable when we see people who look like us--economically, socially, the way we dress, for instance--and tend to frequent places accordingly.

In our elections, we see very few voters with disabilities.  They probably often vote by mail.  Maybe, though, they feel uncomfortable coming in to vote.  Accommodating voters AND workers with disabilities are both important to me.

At the very least, in a turnout view, I am extremely interested in having our cadre of election workers be representative of the voters they serve.  Otherwise, I worry that we could be stifling turnout by not being inclusive, leaving some voters feeling uncomfortable about voting.)

Anyway, I bring all of this up because we have advance voting underway for a Prairie Village city council primary.  Yesterday, a rare 60-degree Saturday in February, our office was open for advance voting from 9 to 3.

We didn't have a single voter.

There are more than 2,000 eligible voters in this primary and we've mailed out about 200 ballots.

Is it bad that we had no voters yesterday?

I suppose it is in that the city paid for 3 workers to be at the ready all day.

But you would have to been purposeful about voting in this race yesterday.  Our office is required to be open for the week before the election for advance voting, but it is about a 30-minute drive from the area of the primary.  Perhaps someone with travel plans next week may have come out, but the overall story of turnout likely will be told Tuesday.

Saturday's turnout was just one data point.  I have mixed feelings about it says--or the fact that we've had fewer than 10 in-person voters since Tuesday--but I do feel all chest-puffy if someone criticizes voters for not participating.

The turnout discussions are more relevant right now as Kansas lawmakers consider moving spring elections to the fall.

I'm cool with that move because I believe people like predictability, and one reason turnout may be low in the spring is the overall awareness that we have elections in the spring.  City candidates often go door-to-door to campaign and, having been a city candidate doing that long ago, I know many persons are unaware of spring elections.

I'd like to see elections every November--city races moved to the fall of odd (not even) years so that every November, there is an election.  Other things naturally will find their way to the November ballots (constitutional amendments and city or school questions) and over time--maybe a long time--the turnout needle would move.

The legislature is considering bills that would do this.  My concern about moving city elections to even years is that it will be much more costly, while moving to odd years is cost-neutral.

Moving city elections to the fall of even years combines our highest turnout election with our most complicated election (city candidate rotation and city/school boundaries result in myriad of ballot styles).  Plus, we'd surely have a two-page ballot, doubling our printing costs, increasing our postage costs, and even creating some tabulation issues because many persons may not return both pages of the ballot.

Further, as nutty as this seems, our election office building is full.  We have no space to securely store the large volume of new ballots we'd have to print.  It sounds crazy to say we would need a new building, but we would.  (Or, the land just next to us goes up for auction next month--maybe we could buy it and build an annex).

Still, a bill that moves elections to the fall (odd or even years, but odd, please) creates a terrific and timely opportunity to include language that schools be available as polling places and that the schools be closed on election day to students.  This would address the safety issues parents have been raising since the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 and make polling places predictable for our voters.

Predictability is a key lever to improve overall turnout.

The schools are closed in August, when the primary would occur, and if closed on the election day in November--budda-bing, budda-boom, voting life just got much more predictable for our voters.

This school in-service day, or election holiday, was a recommendation of the Presidential Commission and one I advocated to be part of the recommendations.

It's a different kind of Wildcat than the Baker mascot.

But, the combination of spring elections moving to the fall and the November in-service day could be a game-changer that would make a no-voter day even more rare than a 60-degree Saturday in February.

Monday, February 17, 2014 0 comments

Is There a Card for Happy Election Day?

This is a brief interruption from addressing the local impact of the recommendations from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA).

Well, sort of, anyway.

This takes us back to what is the most frequently posted topic--the United States Post Office.

We're mailing out ballots for next week's Prairie Village primary and getting some back without issue, so that's good.

The post office is closed today for President's Day and a couple of things are top of mind with the Postal Service, not the least of which come from an article in yesterday's Kansas City Star. 

I'm not sure why I never made the Kansas City connection between Hallmark and that company's interest in stopping Saturday mail delivery.  Hallmark, as you'll see in the article, even has a United States Senator on the case.

But then, one of our state's United States Senators, Pat Roberts, was equally engaged in listening to the PCEA's recommendations last week before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.  He's the minority leader of that committee.

The Committee also was expected to vote on the nominations of two members of the Election Assistance Commission, but the Committee didn't have a quorum for such a vote.

There likely is a good reason of which I'm not aware for the lack of quorum.  There might be two or three very good reasons.

Still, it shouldn't be lost on anyone that when the PCEA spoke to arguably the Senate committee that would be most interested in the findings, only four senators were present.

My role with the PCEA recommendations, I've decided, is to link those to needs in our operations.  That's what I've started to do here and have several  posts to go on that.

Last week, I recommended locally through testimony on a bill in committee at the Kansas House of Representatives that the bill considering moving spring elections to the fall in odd-numbered years also include a requirement that schools have an in-service day for November elections.  I cited the PCEA study as part of that testimony.

I don't know how much play the recommendations will get, but I want to know I exhausted ways that this tool (the PCEA report) can help our voters.  Hence, the series of posts.

A big component of those recommendations involve advance voting, something Johnson County has done very well.  Part of that, though, requires continued use of the Postal Service, and I was encouraged to see Hallmark Cards pushing for continued "full" postal service.

I'm not being cynical, just a realist--we may have more success with a company like Hallmark pushing postal issues than we might on our own.

I'm continually baffled, though, why the only public-facing solution to the Postal Service's woes is elimination of Saturday delivery.  The shrink-to-grow business model rarely works.

In fact, the Postal Service saw an 8 percent revenue increase in its most recent fiscal year and still had a net loss of $5 billion.

Much of the problem is being pinned on postal health and retirement benefits, and I can't speak to that enough to say with certainty that's wrong.   It's a contributor, but continuous $5 billion losses defy logic.  If any of us were the chief executive officer of the Postal Service, we would be exactly that--among the "were."

None of us would be retained as the head of an outfit that continually lost billions while we walked around with our hands in the air blaming the system. 

Consider that since 2005, when I came into this job, first-class postage has risen from 37 cents to 49 cents, a 32 percent increase.

And, that hasn't been enough to fix things.

Eliminating 16.7 percent of the delivery days doesn't seem like that would be enough, either.  How could anyone with a straight face say so?

Postage is our greatest expense after staff salaries and ahead of election worker expenses.  Yet, half of our elections in that period have been mail-ballot elections despite the increases in postage. The postage increases haven't decreased the interest in mail-ballot elections nor tipped us to the point that building a larger facility for in-person advance voting is more cost-effective than continuing to use the mail for nearly half of our advance voters.

Maybe the Postal Service should look at responsive pricing, similar to baseball teams.  Games against the Yankees or on weekends, for instance, cost more here.  Maybe another twist to tiers of pricing is a premium paid for Saturday delivery.

The flaw in that theory, of course, is that if a truck drives past four homes to deliver mail to one, the truck still drove past all five homes.

Another option would be for the Postal Service to be privatized or treated like a utility with a rate of return allowed.

Something has to be done. 

Or, not, maybe.   If continued $5 billion losses aren't affecting change, maybe we'll stay on this path for several years.

At some point, though, revenues have to match the costs.  If we ride Hallmark's lobbying coattails, maybe the only things traveling through the mail will be items when the senders care to send the very best.

Here's hoping that the "very best" includes ballots.

Saturday, February 8, 2014 0 comments

Black Cloud Voting

In keeping with recent posts, this will be a yarn again referencing a woman I've never met and a Morrissey song title.

This time, the context is voting equipment.  Or, better said, non-voting equipment used for voting.

It's a concept that has taken hold, with many vendors working some solution related to it.

During a meeting with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration this past July, I was talking to co-chair Ben Ginsberg about voting equipment.  I began cranking up the first few notes of my BYOVM yarn.

"What if voters could use their smartphones to call up a sample ballot, complete it, and take it in to the polling place to vote," he postulated.

"Well, that's exactly the point of my---," I began before the Commission's senior researcher Nate Persily jumped in.

"They can do that already!" he said.

At that moment, I felt all yarn engines clicking, ready to shout, "Wait, that was my idea!  Let me bore you with why."  

Nate was so wide-eyed and cheery, though, I realized that such a claim would be futile.

It conjured a time when a good friend of mine explained how he came up with the idea of Beanie Babies before Beanie Babies were, well, Beanie Babies.  I believe him.  No one else would.

Likewise, after watching our toddler son drop many pacifiers years and years ago, my wife and I conceived of the Dinky Dunker, some sort of belt contraption with sanitizing liquid that parents could carry, push down the grubby pacifier into it (much like giving a golf ball a wash at the tee), and--pop!--back to the baby's mouth the pacifier would go.  

If someone invents that, ala the Beanie Babies story, remember you read that here first.

(As a secondary yarn, my favorite book of all time, "Competing for the Future," speaks to this a bit, particularly as a reason for not asking customers to define what they want.  Customers will always talk in today's terms, not in terms of a solution to the problem.  You know you've hit on something when it quickly moves from a future idea to a pedestrian yawner like BYOVM is becoming).

So, Thursday we had a vendor come with a demonstration of different voting systems.  Another came Friday.

All of the national talk and recent coverage about nothing being available for the next generation of voting systems may be true but it won't be true much longer.  Voting systems may represent the next innovation explosion.

And, I do believe they all will allow for the incorporation of smart devices.  

I remember years ago how any network connection was taboo in the voting system world. It pretty much still is, but the network is all around us.  Many of these new systems anticipate tentacles into the network.

We live in a connected world and it's unlikely election administration will stay fenced away.  This is a big change coming with the next-generation voting systems.  Network-centric applications in use on election day are inevitable.

I'm not talking online voting, but online administration using systems, for instance, that can report back through the network exactly how many people have voted at any polling place at any given time of the day.  Other metrics can come back, too.  We'll probably have the ability to know how many people have voted in a specific race at any minute.

If a line is mounting somewhere--we will be able to dispatch a field supervisor to check it out before the supervising judge realizes the place is swamped.  It would be the equivalent of a second checker coming up to help before the first looked up to notice the pile-up that everyone in line had been feeling for a few minutes as their ice cream melted.

When the media asks in a few years how things are going out there, we'll be able to call up a dashboard of activity around the county and answer with precision.

Perhaps a new issue won't be that we won't know how many people will have voted when we get that call, but rather what happens when that information is released.  Would that stir or stifle turnout?

Yogi Berra's "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded," could be an unintended consequence of saying with confidence that voting has been heavy.  Explaining that only 10 people have voted in the first hour may take the zest out of others to go vote.  Too much information could become our new problem.

The Internet may not be used to vote, but it's presence will be all around the administration of the election.

That would be scary stuff to Bev Harris, (the woman I haven't met that is the subject of this lead and author of "Black Box Voting.")

It's scary enough to me, too--at least enough to continue in my "Think Like the Jetsons, Live Like the Flintstones" election administration approach.  After all, Johnson County initially modemed election results back from the polls in April 2002, but that concept either wasn't ready for prime time or just wasn't ready.

Either way, it didn't work that well, and any community that hand-transports election results back on election night, like we do, can thank that episode as the reason.

There aren't many royalty-free
options for "black cloud," but
I'm sure you get the idea
So, thinking of that, and for whatever reason continuing to think about Morrissey songs since "Now I Am A Was" rattled through my brain with my post 10 days ago, I realized that the future is less "Black Box Voting,"  and more "Black Cloud Voting."

I don't envision elections as dark and scary, neither Black Box-ey nor Black, uh, Cloudy.

But if activists were concerned with a black box sitting between the voter and results, "To The Cloud," isn't a phrase that will give them comfort.  More and more, networks and data servers of some type will be between the voter and the election office.

I think that's a good thing, at least in the context that we'll have more data, faster, and can provide better service to the voter.

But, jeez, here comes a paradigm shift, lady.

It isn't the underpaid, overworked, and understaffed election offices you'll need to worry about.  It's not the big, bad voting machine companies that could create chaos.  One of them, someday, would like to make a sale.  They might want to sell to more than one customer, in fact, and any kind of network vulnerability is the last thing they'll want.

The new round of vulnerabilities will be what we face daily elsewhere in our lives.  They won't even be tied to voting systems, as much as deceptive tactics or even just fear-factor headlines.

(And, sorry, but let's get real, that's what many of the black-box voting headlines were in the first place.)

For instance, we haven't seen credible cases of iPhone malware, but "mobile hacking threats" has been a topic long enough now that it's actually become tired.

As we move from the simple systems we have today, 1990s technology, to the robust systems of the future, we have to realize that there is a whole large group of ne'er do wells who will see opportunities to disrupt our lives in general and elections, specifically.

They will be able to disrupt simply with claims, the equivalent of technology bomb-threats.  They will disrupt with fake attempts to make people, outside of our systems, think they are voting when they aren't.

All this comes with the move to newer technology that we all know is on the horizon.

This phenomena can't be new.  In its own way, technology changes in each cycle led to similar but more primitive worries.

In fact, "Black Box Voting" gives us a good feel for reactions the last time voting systems amped up.  Many of us were not in election administration then, but we know we'll need to be wide-eyed on all fronts as we introduce new technology.

Yes, this yarn has a point--several of them, in fact:

  • Election systems (not just voting systems) are about to see their moment of innovation.
  • We've seen pile-on innovation in other industries, and I really believe that if you're an IT developer, elections is going to be a fun place to be over the next few years.
  • Election offices are going to be more IT-centric.  We're already seeing this, and I predict more than half of election office staff members will be IT-oriented within 5 years.
  • We will need to give a growing amount of mindshare to blocking out new threats.  Election administrators are good at creating security procedures, but we will be spending more time going down what we hope will be blind alleys just to demonstrate that there is no vulnerability.
  • That's because we are about to emerge into a world that simply can't ignore the connected world.  At some point, election administrators will be chastised for not connecting systems, as opposed to today's world where that practice is applauded.
It circles back to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and their report.  This is the first of two posts related to the voting system recommendations.  

This post is more to acknowledge that we're not just facing the need for a new voting system in Johnson County.  That system will be the catalyst for a whole new way of operating, in ways we can't yet foresee but will be expected to foresee before we spend any money.

The second post will focus on the financial side.  So, that's my blogging homework assignment, to tap out part two.

And that brings a whole 'nother definition of "Black Cloud."  More soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 1 comments

Elgia Stevenson

I never met Elgia Stevenson, Johnson County's Election Commissioner from 1986 to 1995.

Elgia Stevenson
She had a reputation.  She was opinionated.

Elgia called me in 2010.  I'm not sure why.  But I was excited to get the call.

There was so much I'd like to ask her, I said.  After all, there have only been 8 election commissioners in Johnson County history, so it's a small circle.

"Eight people who have had that job?" she interrupted.  "That doesn't mean anything."

Those who knew Elgia probably just laughed when reading that.  She was direct.

Still, I had many questions and wanted to learn as much as I could from this chance phone call.

I met her predecessor, Lee Alt, a couple of years before she passed away.  I knew Marvin Rainey, the county's second election commissioner, from 1958-1962.  Marvin had also been mayor of Overland Park and was the Shawnee attorney when I was on the city council.  I felt honored to take a position he once held.

I succeeded Miss Election USA, Connie Schmidt, who had been in the job for nine years and was (and is) a walking ball of election charisma.

Consider what it will be like for whomever the Yankees' closer will be this year, succeeding Mariano Rivera, and that was me in 2005, coming in after Connie retired.

In April, I will be the second-longest tenured Johnson County Election Commissioner, only behind C. Willard Cook, who followed Marvin in 1962 and was election commissioner until 1974.

That seems kind of cool to me, but Elgia likely would have told me that it, also, didn't matter.  She might have been right, too.

Elgia retired in 1986.  She died this past weekend, on her 89th birthday.

Her biggest legacy was pushing advance voting, which was passed by the legislature after her retirement and turned into an art by Connie.

It was snowing the morning of the presidential election in 1992.  I remember voting in Fairway, where I lived at the time, and that there was a moderate line.  There were longer lines, elsewhere, as covered in the media, and the push for advance voting was on.

(Click here for a link to a Google copy of the Lawrence Journal World article where Elgia is credited with the introducing the idea of advance voting).

I don't know how advance voting was born, really, in Johnson County.  Even that newspaper article might have a little revisionist history.  It might have been often discussed, often introduced, finally passed.

I do know that the time it takes to vote is top of mind right now because of the report by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.   The report advocates adoption of advance voting.

I know, by accounts, that when Elgia was in the room, everyone knew it.

I know that only seven other people really know the issues the Johnson County Election Commissioner faces in the job.  There are few footprints to follow when encountering issues.

I know that my job is both harder and easier because of advance voting and that advance voting is in our DNA now in Johnson County.

And I know advance voting moved from a gleam in the eye to a part of our culture after 1992.

Elgia might also have said that didn't mean anything.  But, I think, thousands of voters here would disagree.  For today, she deserves credit for that.

Sunday, February 2, 2014 0 comments

This is What I Was Afraid Of

As expected, the President mentioned the Presidential Commission on Election Administration during Tuesday's State of Union address:

Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote.  Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened.  But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it; and the bipartisan commission I appointed last year has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote.  Let’s support these efforts. 

I intended only one general update from the Commission's report. But the day after the State of Union, I received a press release from the National Association of Counties (NACO), summing up the impact of the items raised during the President's annual address upon NACO and the member counties.

If this release is any indication, it wasn't evident that the half hour to vote objective is one that will need to be shared by election officials and county officials. 

Many of the items mentioned in the Commission report will need funding, particularly from the counties that provide budgets for election administrators.  I've pasted in the NACO release below, but it doesn't mention these reforms, and yet acknowledges:

Matt Chase, NACo’s executive director, said the national legislative and policy agenda affecting counties and communities is complex and challenging, but that county leaders stand ready to work with federal partners to deliver for the American people.

I'm not being critical of NACO here, just recognizing that, to loosely quote Stewie Griffin as Darth Vader in Family Guy's parody of Star Wars, "I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't" point this out:

This is a federal Commission (comprised smartly of some local election officials) with recommendations for local election officials, usually county election officials.  There are no federal partners, really, and not even a federal requirement that local communities conduct national elections.

Still, the President, ostensibly NACO's number one federal partner, has endorsed a report created by a Commission he appointed.

(Er....I'm beginning as I type this to understand the phrase "Bully Pulpit," and I recognize that by calling this out I am hijacking my own blog a bit and potentially being a bully.  I'm not trying to do either, but this is a big deal for our voters.)

Without NACO's buy-in and support of the Commission's recommendations, most are destined to remain, well, recommendations.

Particularly, funding will be needed to update voting systems.  A great article discussing this should be in USA Today's Monday edition but can be accessed by clicking this sentence.

I'll be back on the ground (and not here in the general world where I like to say, the rubber meets the sky) later this week.  Heck, we're supposed to have a massive February snowstorm on Tuesday, nearly a year from the scarring one we had during last February's election.  At least we're 3 weeks out from advance voting this time.

Here, though, is the full release:

County Priorities Part of President's
State of the Union Address

Transportation, infrastructure, economic issues cited

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  America’s county officials were encouraged by some issues President Obama raised in his State of the Union address including transportation and water infrastructure, economic development, healthcare and immigration reform.
“NACo was pleased to hear President Obama identify county government priority issues such as transportation funding and economic development as part of his plan to help our county economies grow,” said NACo President Linda Langston, supervisor, Linn County, Iowa.  “Counties provide essential services to create healthy, safe, vibrant and economically resilient communities. We can better meet the needs and expectations of the American people working closely with our federal partners as the president pledged during his State of the Union Speech.”  

Of particular interest to counties is transportation infrastructure funding. Counties play a critical role in our nation’s infrastructure, investing more than $106 billion each year in public works infrastructure. Counties own 45 percent of America’s roadways and 228,000 bridges, and are involved in the funding and ownership of nearly one-third of airports and around 30 percent of transit systems. 
Specifically, the president called on Congress to pass a new surface transportation law for federal highway, transit and safety programs and the Water Resources Development Act, both NACo priorities. 

“NACo supports the president’s commitment to fixing the nation’s growing infrastructure deficit,” said NACo First Vice President Riki Hokama, council member, Maui County, Hawaii. “The president understands and counties agree that failure to make smart and increased investments today will cost counties more money in the future.”

Workforce issues, long-term unemployment and economic development were other county priority issues mentioned in the president’s speech. Counties invest more than $25 billion on economic development each year. This investment is especially vital as counties across the country continue to recover from the recession. In 2013 only 54 county economies, mostly in the Midwest, reached their pre-recession levels of unemployment.

“NACo supports further investment in economic development and agrees that we must invest in a skilled workforce development system to meet the needs of businesses and reduce the nation’s unemployment rate,” said NACo Second Vice President Sallie Clark, commissioner, El Paso County, Colo.

Counties and county officials are key players in financing and delivering health care. Counties invest $70 billion annually in health services, supporting 960 hospitals and 1,550 local health departments.

“NACo agrees with the president that we must continue work together to find ways to increase access to health insurance coverage and quality care,” said NACo Health Steering Committee Chair Committee Chair Larry Johnson, commissioner, DeKalb County, Ga.

Immigration reform, a long-stalled issue on Capitol Hill, is another county priority issue because of the effect the current system has on county services and taxpayers. Counties are required by law to provide emergency health, free elementary and secondary education, and public safety to all residents, regardless of immigration status. Comprehensive immigration reform is one of NACo’s legislative priorities for 2014.

Matt Chase, NACo’s executive director, said the national legislative and policy agenda affecting counties and communities is complex and challenging, but that county leaders stand ready to work with federal partners to deliver for the American people.

“Most of the key domestic issues raised by the president tonight have a direct impact on our nation’s county governments,” Chase said. “This is why NACo and county elected leaders from across the nation remain committed to strengthening our intergovernmental system of federal, state and local governments. County governments play a key role in developing and funding core community building blocks like health, justice, public safety, transportation and community development services.”

More information about Why Counties Matter is available on the NACo website or by contacting Jim Philipps at 202.942.4220.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo assists America’s 3,069 counties in pursuing excellence in public service to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties. NACo promotes sound public policies, fosters county solutions and innovation, promotes intergovernmental and public-private collaboration and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. More information at: .